Productivity challenge for South West manufacturers

By Anita Jaynes on 10 June, 2015

Small and medium sized manufacturers (SMEs) in the South West are still striving to find the answer to the ‘productivity puzzle’, according to new research released today.

Over four fifths (81%) of respondents to the latest Manufacturing Barometer* have indicated that they want to improve productivity in the next six months to help them achieve their growth plans.

This is up on six months ago (74%) and highlights the need for more firms to take action to boost efficiencies, reduce waste and maximise the potential of their workforce and machinery.

Against this backdrop, there is positive news on recruitment, with over half (54%) of companies intending to increase their workforce in the next half year.

South West manufacturers have also outlined a commitment to continuous improvement, with nearly six in ten planning to increase investment in new machinery over the next six months, compared to 53% nationally.

Simon Howes, Director of South West Manufacturing at the Business Growth Service, commented: “In recent weeks and months there has been much talk about productivity among the business community, and our latest survey highlights that this is still an area of priority for manufacturers in the region.

“Two quarters ago when we asked the same question regarding how productivity needs to change within respondents’ businesses, almost three quarters felt it needed to improve, yet it looks like just over half (51%) actually achieved their goal.

“This outlines that there is still room for improvement but also demonstrates that there is a desire from our manufacturers not to stand still. This is vital if the sector is going to continue to build on the current period of growth across the country.”

Simon Howes added: “While our survey reports slight dips in achieved sales and orders over the last six months, it also shows the highest recorded figure (59%) for the number of manufacturers planning to invest in new machinery.

“We will aim to engage with even more companies to help them with the barriers they are facing, including providing support with strategy, process improvement and the introduction of improved manufacturing processes. These factors will all play a part in helping to address the productivity issue that has been raised once more.”

The Business Growth Service brings together GrowthAccelerator and the Manufacturing Advisory Service, with additional elements from the Intellectual Property Office (Intellectual Property Audits) and the Design Council (Design Mentoring).

It also refers SME manufacturers to the right support provided by other agencies, including UK Trade & Investment, Innovate UK (including High Value Manufacturing Catapults), the British Business Bank, local Growth Hubs and UK Export Finance.

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