UK Manufacturing Data suggests recovery gaining momentum

by Greg Ford 21. May 2013 17:11

According to the the ONS Index of Production, UK manufacturing output surged by 1.1% in March, with the largest upward contributions coming from the manufacture of basic metals and metal products, up by 2.8%, and the manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products, up by 5.5%.

This month’s promising manufacturing output figures may have come as a surprise – it’s the first time in two years that we have seen a rise over two consecutive months. From a gloomy start, UK manufacturing data shows an improved outlook, which was a drag on output in the first quarter and could allow us to see GDP maintaining a more consistent and positive path over the coming months.

KPMG too has revealed that the manufacturing sector could be regaining traction, reporting that the UK is the top three most popular sourcing destination. According to its 4th annual Global Manufacturing Outlook report published in May, the top strategic priority for global manufacturing companies was reducing cost structure, ahead of sales growth, and increasing agility.

Despite the prolonged uncertainties for manufacturing, many companies are emerging from the downturn with significantly reduced cost structures, and improved systems enabling them to be far more responsive to customer requirements and market trends

These agile systems are no longer the preserve of large companies with generous IT budgets – in fact the reverse is true. Smaller companies have the flexibility to adapt their processes, and mid-market ERP systems now include advanced logic to maximise customer service levels and minimise costs. Sherwood Scientific is one such company expanding its export market and championing the UK as a destination for future profit growth.

The Cambridgeshire based development and manufacturing company manufactures and distributes a range of scientific instruments and apparatus worldwide. It utilises Exchequer’s financial software to handle stock control and workflow. The Works Order processing (WOP) enables Sherwood to syncronise various functions of the business; from picking components and transferring work in progress to receipt of finished goods back into the stores. This allows the team to manage the supply of products to their customers on time and within budget.

Sherwood Scientific’s products are sold worldwide and it supports its customers with one of the most extensive distributor networks in the industry. Accurate information and Key Performance Indicators are crucial to effective management in this environment. General Manager Nick Sugden says; “We have distributors across most countries and Exchequer allows us to look at their sales numbers on a wide variety of parameters. Sales can be determined by product, by unit numbers, by margin, by time period and by comparison to previous periods. Exchequer also permits the export of data into other products such as Microsoft Excel where further data processing and charting is possible.”

It is encouraging to know that global markets are increasing their focus on the UK for growth in sales, profit and sourcing. We should be celebrating the ‘Made in Britain’ marque; localisation of production would help lower Britain’s trade deficit as UK-made goods would replace imported ones

Robust and flexible business systems which meet the needs of the manufacturing and distribution industries will have an impact in all areas of operation. By achieving greater control of stock, and establishing a continuous and auditable workflow through the manufacturing process can only result in increased  visibility of performance and ultimately of the sales distribution network.

Over the next five years and in an age and industry where volatility has become a given, companies that possess these attributes and pursue these strategies will likely define the standard of success.

For more information on manufacturing management software, please click here.

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