Blog posts with the tag UK design and manufacture | Interested In Everything

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Blog posts with the tag "UK design and manufacture"

I don’t often read the Guardian these days, so apologies for not spotting this one much sooner. Yesterday, a friend pointed me towards a little article which chimes quite nicely with something I’ve been saying (and mentioned before on this blog – you’ll see this becoming a recurring theme if I’m not careful) for quite some time. One of the stock phrases that some people – mainly lazy journalists – repeatedly trot out regarding UK manufacturing industry is “we don’t make anything any more”.  There seems to be this myth that all we do in this country is sell insurance to one another.

 

If anyone seriously believes this one, then I suggest you spend a few days following me around and looking very closely at some of the companies I visit.  I guarantee that you will soon reach a completely different conclusion. One thing you can probably say is that we don’t make many cheap, low-end consumer goods any more. We certainly do have a thriving manufacturing industry, but its nature has changed somewhat in the last half century.  A lot of the old manual jobs have been automated out of existence, but, as a nation, we still produce many things that the world wants to buy.  Before I start ranting too much, this is the article I’m talking about.

 

I can’t believe I missed this at the time (January this year), as it’s something that holds a huge interest for me.  Apparently, we’re on track to surpass a record high for car production.  The peak output for UK manufactured vehicles was back in 1972 when total output was 1.92 million vehicles – something that might surprise those of you old enough to remember an era associated with industrial strife and the dark days of British Leyland!  It looks like that, by 2017, we’ll have beaten this record and this time, there won’t be a Morris Marina in sight!

 

So, next time anyone tells you that we don’t make anything in the UK more, tell them that we’re on track to have a higher output from the automotive sector than at any time since Ted Heath was in power – that might just shut them up!

 

Anyway, I’m off down to Solihull on Wednesday to have a look around the Jaguar – Land Rover plant. That should be a fun day out – I’ll let you know how it went next week.

 

Oh, maybe one of the manufacturers might want to celebrate this milestone by putting one of their 1972 models back into production.  Anyone at Ford listening?  Can I have another Zodiac please?  Oh go on…

It’s always good to see concrete proof that good engineering design is alive and well in the UK.  One criticism I hear leveled at us time and again is that “we don’t make anything any more”.  Well, coming from an engineering background (and having an awful lot of industrial experience), I’m afraid I have to disagree.  I’ve worked in and walked around many companies in this fair land to be able to tell you all from first hand experience that this simply isn’t true.  It may be the case that we don’t manufacture many low-value consumer goods any more, but I can assure you that reports of the death of UK design and manufacture are highly exaggerated. In my capacity as consultant design engineer, I’ve worked in factories that have produced things as diverse as radiator valves, farm gates and cranes for lifting nuclear fuel rods. I’ve seen manufacturing facilities that you wouldn’t believe (but no attack ships on fire of the shoulder of Orion, though).

 

There are many successes I could harp on about, but one story that caught my eye was on the BBC this week. Inventor and designer James Dyson is apparently investing £5m in a new robotics lab at Imperial College. I know I’m forever going on about how we need more scientists and engineers in the UK and it’s great to hear that someone who understands the situation is stepping in.  I know from personal experience how higher education budgets are continually being squeezed and the provision of this level of funding to invest in the future of the next generation of engineers is nothing short of fantastic news to me. According to the story, not only is Sir James investing a large amount in education, he’s also announced a £250m investment to double the size of his company’s research centre in Wiltshire and hire 3,000 more engineers. Proof that the UK can still do it!

 

Oh, and by the way, Sir James – if you happen across this little post and need someone who’s extremely handy with several commercial CAD systems, give us a shout…