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


Blog posts with the tag "UK design and manufacturing"

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…

Following on from my last ramble about the incredibly healthy state of UK design and manufacture, it looks like our engineers are in demand yet again.  I was browsing the news in the world of engineering last night when I happened across this little gem.


Apparently, Tata Motors is about to base its R&D operations right here in the UK to take advantage of our technical expertise.  The company may not exactly be a household name in this country – some of you may be aware that one of their cars, the Indica, was briefly imported by MG-Rover about 10 years ago and badged as the CityRover, a kind of Austin Metro replacement – but they are a serious player in the automotive field and just happen to own Jaguar Land-Rover.  Although most of Tata’s cars are designed for their home market, their latest concept vehicle, the Nano Pixel was developed at Warwick, as the company relies heavily on a team of development engineers at the Warwick Manufacturing Group.


Having been involved with development at JLR for a number of years, Tata have decided to base their R&D operation in the UK because of our world class automotive engineers.  On a personal note, I took some of my final year automotive students for a visit to JLR last summer and their current set-up is extremely impressive.  They also let me drive a brand new Discovery 4 around their off-road track, but that’s another story.


It’s good to see that we still have the necessary expertise to design and develop successful products – like I said last week, there seems to be a common misconception that we are no longer capable of making anything in the UK any more, but nothing could be further from the truth. As far as home grown automotive production goes, JLR are riding high and MGs are rolling off the lines at Longbridge again.  The companies may be owned by overseas concerns (is that really relevant?), but our engineers are proving that we do still have the knowledge and expertise.