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Speaking following the appointment of Sajid Javid as Business Secretary MTA Chief Executive James Selka said: “We would like to welcome Mr Javid to his pivotal role. Business needs to be at the heart of our national life and we are sure that he will be a strong voice for business in Government and beyond.
The UK’s advanced manufacturing sector is growing in part because of the policies adopted over the last five years. We have seen a lot of progress and now we need continuity. The provision of a stable financial environment – including crucially in relation to Capital Allowances and R&D Tax support - is essential. There are some great innovations, like the Catapult Centres and the Industrial Strategies, where deep foundations have been laid, can be built on further to really give us room to grow.
That is not to say that there are not challenges; with productivity still lagging behind where it needs to be and the UK’s export performance still a matter of huge concern. The issue of Europe needs to be addressed too. Now that we know that there will be a referendum it is essential that the UK drives as good a deal as possible without imperilling access to the Single Market – advanced manufacturing businesses need that certainty or investment will be hit.
There will be much in the Secretary of State’s inbox but we believe there is a fantastic opportunity to seize an advantage in the technologies of tomorrow and we look forward to working with him to do so.
The Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) is the UK trade association for the Manufacturing Technologies industry. The MTA represents the core of engineering based manufacturing and aims to promote the use and innovation of advanced technology in manufacturing. Further information about the MTA and our members can be found on our web site at www.mta.org.uk
Addressing the Advances in Machining conference Mark Ridgway OBE, President of the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), focused on the role that innovation can play in stabilising a business in volatile markets. He emphasised the importance of innovation in manufacturing but stressed the take up of this message has been surprisingly slow, quoting regional and national figures on the relatively poor innovation performance of SMEs.
Mark Ridgway OBE, President of the Manufacturing Technologies Association, speaking at the Advances in Machining conference.
Mark Ridgway said: “It is important that we not only seek to develop new technologies that better serve the existing needs of manufacturers but that we learn how to identify needs that customers may not realise they have today.”
The Advances in Machining conference was held on 24 June, the first day of the Global Manufacturing Festival organised by the AMRC Sheffield. In his speech Mark stressed that innovation rarely comes in a visionary flash of lightening and more normally evolves over time. Referring to the machine tool and machining sector Mark emphasised that the industry offers great opportunity to shape the environment around it and be a true technological leader. He added: “What we can put inside the head of the customer is more important than that which we can put inside a box. Identify the need and the technology will follow.”
Mark concluded by highlighting the importance of ‘connectivity and open innovation’ in identifying needs that will form the basis of the innovation process. He said that product innovation becomes much more difficult when separated from the manufacturing process and welcomed the recent trend towards re-shoring manufacturing in the UK.
At this year’s MTA Annual General Meeting many of the issues raised focused on the future prospects for the manufacturing technologies sector in the UK. Members particularly appreciated the comments from guest speaker Professor Sir Mike Gregory on sustainability and the manufacturing sector.
At the AGM the President, Mark Ridgway OBE, reminded members of the MTA’s co-operation with the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield, now part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, over the introduction of a commercial engineering apprenticeship pathway and the hosting of the Deputy Prime Minister at the launch of the initiative in February. Mark said, “On a wider front your Association is working to ensure that the Catapult centres themselves remain relevant and supportive to the needs of industry in general and our members in particular.”
The President also stressed that the Association needs to ensure the relevance of new government initiatives like the Employer Ownership of Skills programme. He added, “Any MTA Strategy must have its members’ needs at its core but it ignores at its peril the non-market forces of Government. Aligning the latter to the needs of the former is a major strategic objective for your Association.”
Mark Ridgway paid tribute to the strong sales performance to date for MACH 2014 and added that, “The delivery of a great MACH in April will be a cornerstone of the Association’s year.” The President also assured members that he will continue to raise the Association’s profile both at home and abroad.
During the AGM it was announced that Tony Bowkett, Managing Director of Nikken Kosakusho Europe Ltd had been nominated by the Board as the successor to Mark Ridgway’s Presidency. Tony will support the President over the next twelve months and will stand down as the MTA’s Honorary Treasurer as soon as a replacement is found.
The guest speaker Professor Sir Mike Gregory, Head of the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at Cambridge University, addressed members during lunch on the challenges manufacturing faces in the 21st Century. He believed the prospects for UK manufacturing were stronger than for many years but urged members to think globally and help shape the government’s initiatives for the sector.
Professor Gregory concluded by outlining what he considers are the key requirements for manufacturing to be a sustainable sector in the future. He recognised the importance of: encouraging young people to take up a career in engineering; ensuring a proper balance between the manufacturing and service sectors; stressing the importance of businesses thinking internationally and promoting a more environmentally responsible attitude by reducing pollution and energy use.