The manufacturing industry was once the beating heart of the British economy and, while it’s still something to be proud of, the lure of China and other far flung territories has meant its stock has fallen somewhat in recent years. However, new research from Exact, the business software provider, suggests there might be other reasons for the struggles of manufacturing SMEs on these shores.
Exact’s study found that small- to medium-sized manufacturers in the UK are missing out on close to £25bn in extra revenue because they’re worse than their European and American counterparts at responding to new business opportunities. Surveying 3,000 manufacturers across the UK, Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the US, the research found that 14% of British manufacturing SMEs failed to respond to new business enquiries, compared with the average of 11%.
The research went on to reveal what is taking up the majority of British manufacturers’ time and thus preventing them from responding to new opportunities. It highlighted that the biggest challenge for UK manufacturers is finding skilled technical staff, with 43% of British respondents citing this as a headache compared to the global average of 32%. A further 37% said they faced the challenge of ensuring their material and processing costs are accurate, while ensuring invoices are paid on time and product innovation initiatives are being optimised were each cited by 34% of respondents.
“There is little doubt the UK manufacturing sector is facing some tough challenges but with those come opportunities,” said Erik van der Meijden, CEO of Exact. “To take advantage SMEs need to ensure they are competitive, efficient and provide the very best in customer service. This research highlights that one of the most effective ways of doing that is through technology adoption — whether that’s to improve production processes, keep tighter controls over stock or reduce time spent on non-productive administrative tasks – time that could be spent on maintaining and winning new business.”
Anything that gets UK manufacturing back on track has got to be worth looking into.