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Confidence returning to UK manufacturing technologies

14 November 2013

Statistics released in October from the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) show that confidence in their sector, which suppliers tools and equipment to engineering based manufacturing, is at a two year high.

Moreover, a large majority of companies surveyed by the MTA in the manufacturing technologies sector are predicting improvements in their businesses over the next twelve months.

Commenting on the results of the survey Graham Dewhurst, MTA Director General, said: "It’s good news that confidence is up and that our members are looking forward to the future. It’s reassuring to see the indicators continue to point in the right direction – it’s also reassuring to see that growth is on a sustainable pattern not a rollercoaster.

"2013 has been a strong year for the industry with order and sales at good levels throughout. What is also good news is that we can now see a clear trend in employment with companies’ workforces growing at an annualised 6%....If the Manufacturing Technologies Sector is doing well then it means that UK manufacturing is investing in its future.”

It is against this positive background that the biennial MACH Exhibition, which will be held 7-11 April 2014, is generating considerable interest across the advanced engineering sector. The Exhibition is seen as a valued barometer for the health of the industry and is shaping up to be a great event.

The MACH 2014 Exhibition, to be staged at the NEC Birmingham, has allocated already over 18,000m2  of space to exhibitors across Halls 4 and 5. The UK Manufacturing Zone within the Exhibition promises to be a great success with space for companies large and small to showcase their contribution to the UK’s supply chain strength. Airbus was the first OEM to confirm and has subsequently been followed by Rolls-Royce and Messier Bugatti Dowty. However, the Zone’s real strength will be the capabilities of the innovative small and medium sized companies on display and their contribution to the manufacturing supply chain.

The MTA is anxious that the UK manufacturing technologies sector is not disadvantaged when compared with its overseas competitors

Several new and emerging technologies make their MACH debuts with Composites and 3D Printing to the fore. Also coming into the Exhibition for the first time is a dedicated Zone for Logistics and Materials Handling – the product of a new partnership for MACH with IMHX, the lead show in that sector, held in non-MACH years.

In terms of Zones the greatest success at MACH 2012 was probably the Welding World Village which gave welding technology companies a stage on which they could exhibit to a much greater audience than would otherwise have been available. Those companies, and more, will be at the Exhibition again and the Village will be even bigger than previously – perhaps it should be called a Town?

Education and Training is now well established at MACH with tours of young people, conducted by apprentices from MTA member companies, a familiar site around the Halls. The E&T Zone is the centre of their visit, with exhibits such as the AMRC’s MANTRA and the Bloodhound Supersonic Car confirmed to take their places. New for 2014 will be Regional Heat of the Worldskills competitions in CNC Turning, CNC Milling, Industrial Electronics and CAD/CAM. That will give the engineers of today the opportunity to check out the potential of the engineers of tomorrow.

So look out for the beginning of the visitor promotion campaign, being ramped up to bring even more than the 22,000 visitors of 2012 through the doors. MACH 2014 is the opportunity for UK engineering based manufacturing to show off what it can do.

Looking to the future, the MTA is anxious that the UK manufacturing technologies sector is not disadvantaged when compared with its overseas competitors. Graham Dewhurst, MTA Director General, says we need to be sure that the UK sector can continue to grow into the medium and long term:

"The UK is a great place to manufacture, but it could be better still. We now have a competitive tax regime in place for R&D but Government needs to capitalise on that by making the other side of the investment coin – plant and equipment - globally competitive too. That can be done through bringing Capital Allowances up to international ‘best in class’ standards."

The Manufacturing Technologies Association is a trade association for companies working in the engineering-based manufacturing sector. Many of its members are involved in the construction and supply of manufacturing technology; items such as machine tools, cutting tools, metrology (measuring) equipment and CAD/CAM software. Other members deploy these technologies, and some are involved in providing services to the industry.