February 2016 archive

Keeping it British – Why Supporting British Manufacturers is as Important as ever

There is a lot of discussion floating around as to how Britain can help to stimulate its manufacturing industry in order to reclaim the crown as one of the world’s manufacturing powerhouses. This is all fine and well, only that there is very little literature exploring what exactly it is that manufacturing provides Britain with. Grazing the surface reveals its contribution to the economy has dropped from over forty percent to a mere 14% in around 70 years. More and more British manufacturers have been returning over the past few years, but this has hardly reflected in a huge boost in growth, in fact the growth is slowing year on year.

While the number of employees in British manufacturing has gradually been in decline due to the growth of technology which has slowly cut jobs. Yet still to this day over two and a half million people are employed in British manufacturing and this is often in highly concentrated areas. Even during the peak times of the mining industry in Yorkshire and South Wales, these industries encouraged communities to spring up around them. Significantly, when the coal mining industry went into decline, it quickly became clear how dependent some communities were as many were left devastated in the wake of mine closures.

Losing manufacturing in Britain would mean devastation to many communities in Britain which rely on manufacturing and not the services industry. If a factory closes, this can leave hundreds or even thousands of skilled labourers without a job in an area where there simply are not enough other jobs in order to sustain the amount of people living there.

The contribution which British manufacturers make to the economy is certainly minor in comparison to the services sector, but that 14% is hardly a figure to be gawked at. Losing these businesses would instigate a domino effect as staff from the manufacturing industry would lack the spending power to continue to contribute to the services sector which would result in a vicious cycle. Manufacturing has always been and will almost certainly always be an important cog in the British economy and invigorating this industry is a fairly obvious way of encouraging growth across the country.

The overriding impact of British manufacturing more than anything is that they fly the Union Jack across the globe. The reputation of Britain as a country is well built upon the names of Rolls Royce, Jaguar, Triumph, Silver Spoon and many more. Each is synonymous with quality and excellence which in turn rubs off on other products considered to be British. ‘Made in Britain’ is a stamp of quality made famous by manufacturing forerunners which is now being picked up by the new generation of British manufacturers who maintain the values associated with it.




Where Does Manufacturing Provide the Most Jobs?

The New Industrial Revolution in Britain – Which Regions Are Set to Benefit the Most?

Over the past two centuries, the boom of the manufacturing industry in Britain has been crucial to boosting the growth of various regions. You can trace back one thousand years to when Norwich was the largest city in Britain due its agricultural industry. Since then, the boom of other regional parts of Britain has boiled down to their access to resources and materials. With manufacturing in Britain resurgent once again, it again raises the question of where can new manufacturers thrive now as access to resources and materials is no longer as clean cut as it has been in the past.

Britain can already boast world leading manufacturers in the space, automotive and even 3D printing industries, which emphasises how British companies are now utilising their skills and technology to develop. It is no longer as simple as being able to source the materials for these out of the ground as components used in high tech industries are often shipped in from across the world because of the diverse range of technology which is in use.

However, in the past regional growth has and continues to be synonymous with industries that have supported them such as the textiles industry in Lancashire, the steel industry in Yorkshire and the maritime industry in the north east of England. Immediate access to the relevant resources as well as pre-existing personal networks and technical skills have ensured that certain regions became dependent on the success of individual industries. The impact can be seen more recently in 2015 with the crisis over the steel industry in Yorkshire where thousands of jobs have been lost due to intense competition from Chinese steel manufacturers.

The landscape is changing though and as more manufacturers are re-shoring (returning to Britain), there is increasing optimism for the growth of a new batch of British manufacturers. With that comes the potential to create new regional hubs centred around emerging industries. Rather than access to resources, these emerging manufacturers will be based around access to skilled labour, available land and access to shipping routes. Experts hope such regions will be reminiscent of Silicon Valley in California where expansion into engineering by universities such as Stanford encouraged graduates including Hewlett and Packard to start new companies.

The Silicon Valley model is certainly not easy to replicate, but largely unpopulated agricultural areas in Britain which are combined with strong surrounding educational infrastructure can provide an ideal opportunity for start-up companies on the eve of a new industrial revolution in Britain. While London certainly provides the cultural boost which Silicon Valley enjoyed due to being located next to San Francisco, the cost of setting up there is significantly higher than in other parts of the country. Glancing over university league tables reveals Cambridge, Bristol and Bath as leaders in engineering education which could provide a great basis for areas such as Somerset and East Anglia to be potential hubs for technology start-ups.

While this theory is entirely hypothetical, it is clear that for British manufacturing to succeed in the future, it needs to play to its strengths as a world leader in education and innovation and also provide the suitable base for start-ups to nourish and grow. Universities in Britain have already begun to see success by establishing links with local industries in order to attract talent to their region which is beginning to see an increasing number of fresh British manufacturers begin to flourish.


Origins of British Manufacturer

The Roots of British Manufacturing and How It Lost its Crown…

From the dawn of the industrial revolution, for over 100 years Britain was the beacon of industrialisation which so many would follow. In the period around the 1760s, streamlined production grew exponentially after the introduction of steam power and the advent of the power of coal. These discoveries combined with a developing nation led to a golden age for British technology as innovation and imagination bloomed. What followed was Britain’s rise as a powerhouse of industry until the 1900s, but considering the force it once was, it is a wonder why Britain has slipped to being only the 8th largest manufacturer today.

Britain’s breakthrough into the industrial scene stemmed from a wealth of scientific talent, inquisitive inventors and craftsmen who were able to bring their ideas to life using steam power. With that came the opportunity for automation and machinery which allowed for production of goods on a grand scale. Textiles in particular were a major beneficiary, as while a garment before would have to be handmade, with the advent of machinery, production time was significantly reduced. Lancashire’s cotton mills were for a long period Britain’s largest export with a common phrase at the time being; “Britain’s bread hangs by Lancashire’s thread”.

The dominance of the industry by Britain would continue throughout the Victorian era until the first world war when it began to loosen its grip and with competitors on the horizon. The period between 1914-1918 signalled the beginning of Britain’s decline on the global stage. Despite lasting for four years, the focus of manufacturers drastically switched to support the war effort, leaving major contracts with countries around the world available for their competitors. The United States was the main beneficiary as by remaining neutral until 1917 saw many US manufacturers picking up what British manufacturers had left behind. The war would reinvigorate the US economy but left Britain reeling for many years to come.

British manufacturing was further crippled in 1929 following the Wall Street Crash which sent ripples across the world and hardly gave room for Britons to regain the ground they had lost during the First World War. Fast forward to 1938 and history repeated itself as manufacturers turned to contribute to the war effort, leaving the country burdened with debts which it is still paying off to this day. To compound matters, Germany made a remarkable recovery following the war, leaving Britain with the image of the ‘sick man of Europe’ as it attempted to switch from Empire to Europe in order to reinvigorate trade expansion.

The manufacturing industry since then has been playing catch up, attempting to reclaim former glories and its crown as the world’s leading industrial scene. Many Prime Ministers and political parties have come and gone with the promise of returning Britain to the top of the tree, but all of these have been ambitious to say the least. Nationalisation during the tenure of Harold Wilson between 1964 and 1970 for the most part failed and financial crises in the ensuing years further aggravated matters. After this inaugural show of political intervention, governments have primarily taken increasing responsibility in reinvigorating the industry as it struggled during the years of Margaret Thatcher (1979-90) before being built back up again by the governments of Tony Blair (1997-07) and Gordon Brown (2007-10).

This brings us back to today, during a period where British manufacturing appears to still be trying to find a new identity and establish itself on the global stage once again. As investment shifts from efficiency into research and quality, British manufacturers are developing a reputation for creative, innovative and imaginative products once again like it had done hundreds of years ago.

#MadeInBritain #BritishManufacturers #RapIndustories


How Can British Manufacturing Continue to Improve in the Future

Fostering Innovation: How British Manufacturers Can Compete on the Global Stage

As the ‘March of the Makers’ continues to grow and British manufacturers begin to re-enter the global stage, it is vital that sustainable plans are laid out to keep British manufacturing at the forefront of the industry. In a recent survey, 89% of British manufacturers said staying up to date with technology is important to success, yet of these, many do not have proper plans in place to adopt new technology or recruit the next generation of employees. Britain knows that it will never be able to compete with other countries in producing a high volume of products, but where it can truly excel is in innovation.

Innovation is a term which can be applied throughout British manufacturing and in particular is integral to technology as well as training and development. The major advantage for British manufacturers is the wealth of knowledge already available to them, the next step is to use this effectively to help the manufacturer to compete on the global stage. With a background in technological innovation, Britain is well placed to drive new demand by creating unique products which are not being developed anywhere else.

Utilising the skills of an educated workforce can be achieved primarily by channelling funding into research and development to create unique products. By focusing on high quality exports, British manufacturers can harness their reputation to create a distinctive and competitive market position. With products such as these, manufacturers can drive new growth and demand in both Britain and abroad. Focusing on goods which are of ‘customer-relevant quality’ is a reliable way to create quality products which are relevant for emerging markets.

A serious issue for some manufacturers has been their ability to retain talented staff and therefore an important component in succeeding is investing in the training and development of employees. Developing a company culture through compelling work environments can boost employee satisfaction as well as encouraging them to contribute more in the production process. Investing in retaining a workforce which is embedded in the organisation will help staff to understand the organisation’s goals and combining this with training and development programmes will encourage employees to grow with the manufacturer.

At Rap Industries the focus is on creating innovative products in a competitive market. In order to remain at the forefront, great emphasis has been placed on creating unique products, ideal for emerging markets. For example, the Switch Banner features an interchangeable base to create a banner stand where the graphics can be easily changed. This focus on innovation ensures it remains competitive and provides for ever changing customer demands.

#Innovation #Events #SwitchBanner


Industries – What are the benefits of using a British manufacturer?

British Manufacturing is Resurgent and This Is Why They Should Be Your Only Option

The campaign for products ‘Made in Britain’ has been rumbling along for some time, but as we head for a new era in manufacturing, its message is more poignant as British manufacturers slowly begin to thrive again. What made British products great in the past has until recently been overshadowed by cost effective and fast solutions. Manufacturing in the east and in particular in China have enjoyed exponential growth due to the offer of cheap labour, allowing companies to produce at incredibly cheap prices. Demand has now shifted as consumers call for quality and innovation, which are factors which British manufacturers are well renowned for.

In particular, the quality of British products has been a consistent factor for decades in ensuring the popularity of British brands. Where manufacturers from abroad can be guilty of cutting corners in order to reduce costs, British manufacturer’s success is often built on reputation in the community. Most importantly, having a reputation for good quality products is an integral factor why consumers keep faith in their local British manufacturer.

Great materials can then be combined with great design. While British manufacturers cannot compete with the volume that manufacturers from abroad can ship out, they compensate for this with innovative, forward thinking designs which take advantage of a skilled and technologically advanced workforce. In many industries, the introduction of technology has transformed low paid jobs into skilled opportunities. A major issue in British manufacturing has been its failure to retain staff, but with the emergence of higher skilled, higher paid jobs, there is significantly more incentive for skilled workers to stay in the industry.

The locality of British manufacturers allows for collaboration and interaction which leads to developing a relationship over time. With manufacturers abroad, conversations often do not extend past the first visit to establish the quality of the factory. Instead, British manufacturers are often accommodating to custom requests and your order can be tailored to suit your specific needs. As well as this, language can be an often understated factor, however if something were to go wrong with the order, there is nothing more re-assuring than being able to converse with a native speaker.

Rather than having to compete with the rest of the world, British manufacturers have realised they can take advantage of the premium and specialist markets. With an educated and skilled work force, British manufacturers are creating innovative designs which not only streamline the manufacturing process, but also result in intuitive and unique designs. By combining creativity, computing, design and engineering expertise together, British manufacturers are gaining an edge in the new world order of manufacturing.

Rap Industries are a British manufacturer which is following this trend by introducing innovative designs to create products which are unique as well as being made from quality materials. By working closely with clients, Rap Industries creates custom designs for exhibition stands in order to manufacture a product which is ideal for the purpose. If you would be interested in finding out more about the options available from Rap Industries, then please call 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.


West vs East – What Has Happened to British Manufacturing?

West vs East – Why British Manufacturing Can Be Optimistic for the Future

China has long been considered the world’s factory, producing a quarter of all global manufactured goods. With such tight control over the market, China has been edging out global competition with the prospect of a cheap yet skilled labour force. Their dominance in manufacturing has led to exponential economic growth over at least the past two decades, however things have begun to change. In what is being dubbed China’s ‘economic slowdown’, the economy continues to grow, however it is no longer at the considerable pace which it had been and that is cause for optimism for other corners of the world.

The prospect of a cheap yet skilled workforce has seen many British manufacturers make the move east to a country where there are more jobs than workers and staff are prepared to move thousands of miles for the right job.  Whereas in Britain, the workforce is shrinking with greater focus on automated technology as well as an aging workforce and very little incentive for younger generations to follow a career path in manufacturing. The result has left British manufacturers struggling to compete on a global stage, all while in China alone, competition continues to be incredibly fierce as companies fight to make the most of China’s economic boom.

However, China’s recent economic policies have leaned towards invigorating its services sector while manufacturing has been somewhat neglected. At the same time, as education levels in China rise, workers are literally able to pick and choose their employer as they realise the value of their skills. Some go as far as to ask for significant wage rises as they know they can achieve the same working at another manufacturer. This attitude has led to the average wage rising from twenty pence an hour to one pound in recent years. Considering that moving manufacturing to China can save around fifty pence per unit, the financial benefit of moving to China is beginning to wane.

This is where Britain now has an opportunity to regain a stake in the global manufacturing market. While Asia and the east has dominated low cost products, British manufacturing still retains a significant reputation amongst the global audience for high quality, reliable products. With a highly skilled workforce combined with innovative technology, British manufacturing still has a lot to offer at the high end of the market. While manufacturing in the east can offer speed and quantity, the west instead creates products which undergo rigorous quality assurance and are very often hand finished.

As Britain moves to make its manufacturing industry great again, it is already ahead of the east as it aims for sustainability. While Chinese policies benefit a snowball-esque approach to meeting demand, Britain has the infrastructure to foster and develop smaller, more innovative companies which are at the heart of technological progress. For fans of products ‘Made in Britain’, there is cause for quiet optimism if British manufacturers continue to use their skills and innovation to compete with the competition.

#MadeInBritain #BritishManufacturers



The State of British Manufacturing in 2016 and How It’s Not All Bad News


In 2011, George Osbourne, Chancellor of the Exchequer declared: “we want the words ‘Made in Britain’ to drive our nation forward” in an address aimed at rejuvenating Britain’s manufacturing industry. Businesses in this sector stagnated and declined during the recession having previously been a driving factor in Britain’s economic growth. Between 2010 and 2012, British manufacturing was on the up again as a weak pound and growing consumer habits began to kick-start the industry, however that growth has not been sustainable and recent statistics have revealed that manufacturing in Britain is beginning to stagnate once again.

To provide some context, the manufacturing industry accounts for 10% of the United Kingdom’s economy, with the vast remainder being made up by the services sector. In 2015, for the first time in years, British manufacturing failed to contribute to the country’s economic recovery as its growth leant on the fragile services industry. Essentially, a sector which has been a staple of the UK’s economy for centuries is continuing to wane amidst global economic uncertainty and burgeoning Asian markets.

With 2016 well under way, a variety of factors threaten to afflict a stagnating sector. Government policies including the impact of the living wage, interest rate hikes as well as the EU referendum have hardly signalled that now is the time to expand for British manufacturers and instead have only served to increase uncertainty around the industry. Evidently, rather than the words ‘Made in Britain’ driving it forward, the economy is increasingly propped upon the services sector which is currently very unstable.

Such uncertainty has claimed some British Industries such as steel amid fierce competition with burgeoning Asian markets. However, this is not the case for all British manufacturers with some bucking the trend and posting growth in the past 12 months. Aerospace, motoring as well as many other industries continue to thrive with British manufacturers leading the market.

As companies continue to innovate with marketing strategies, greater value is placed on the value of networking and being able to interact with clients face-to-face. As such, the displays industry is one which continues to grow and British manufacturers are at the forefront to provide for leading organisations travelling to events across the world. For businesses both big and small seeking to expand their audience, trade shows and exhibitions have become crucibles for organisations looking to foster new relationships and meet prospective customers.

While there is clearly a growing disproportion between Britain’s manufacturing and services industry, it is not all doom and gloom for advocates of ‘Made in Britain’. As staple British industries decline, smaller businesses are stepping up as leaders in their respective markets in the face of growing global competition.

#MadeInBritain #Events #TradeShows



The Key Problems Facing British Manufacturing

Cornerstone of Britain – The Key Problems Facing British Manufacturing

After an encouraging surge since the economic crisis in 2008, British Manufacturing is beginning to slow down once again owing to deep issues within the industry. Despite the economy being largely supported by the services industry largely based in London, many parts of Britain are still reliant on manufacturing hubs, especially in northern parts of the country. While growth has been steady for British manufacturers, now is the time to be looking to the future while the situation is relatively stable otherwise it risks losing further ground on its international competitors. The fault can be placed on many across the board from manufacturers themselves to the influence which the government has over the industry.

Lack of investment is an element which has been explored before in previous blogs and will be emphasised here once again. A considerable issue in terms of recruitment is the lack of any framework for many manufacturers to replace skilled workers who leave. Generally, staff enter the industry and develop their skills before moving on to knowledge intensive business services. The cycle then repeats and very few staff are retained to contribute ideas in the future. As new technologies such as the internet of things and smart factories are implemented more, manufacturers will be required to retain more skilled staff than ever before.

Discussions of how to enable British manufacturers to compete against global competition has for a while been a talking point among various governments. Tax adjustments and investment opportunities have failed to revitalise established British industry; therefore, the spotlight should fall elsewhere. The emphasis should be placed upon new emerging markets where British manufacturers can get the jump on their competitors due to the advanced technology available here. For example, as the North Sea oil trade has begun to wane, the prospect of offshore wind farms has become even more promising – so much so that Britain contains half of the world’s overall population of wind farms in its coastal regions.

In terms of competing against other developed nations, a major issue for exporters is the strength of the pound sterling. As the Euro struggles, the strength of British currency increases, which is ideal for holidaymakers as they get more money to spend when travelling abroad. However, for manufacturers it means the cost of their goods increase to the point where overseas competitor’s prices are cheaper. There are always winners and losers depending on how strong the pound sterling is, but in the current state of the global economy, it is British manufacturers who are being negatively affected by it the most.

In the grand scheme of things, history has shown that attempting to reinvigorate traditional industries has tended to fail, which is why more experts are calling for the spotlight to fall on new and emerging industries. British manufacturers are amongst the global leaders in the energy sector, low-carbon cars and healthcare technology and it is in these industries where sustained growth is achievable. An effective plan to retain skilled staff implemented from the outset which is combined with help from the government can be the base to create a long term future for British manufacturing.



What Is On the Cutting Edge of British Manufacturing?

The Pioneering Companies Leading the Charge for British Manufacturing

British manufacturers have historically been regarded as forerunners in innovative technology and it is established companies adopting the same model who are leading the way for the current growth in the industry. As the focus shifts away from sheer volume manufacturing in Britain, companies are finding success in producing high quality and reliable products. In particular, the aerospace and car making industries have enjoyed sustained growth even during the recession due to the demand for the quality, high tech goods which roll out of their factory doors. Car manufacturing in particular appeared doomed after Rover collapsed a decade ago, however a shift towards producing low volume, yet high quality cars has garnered success.

Over the past five years, output amongst the car industry has grown by 40% while the aerospace industry has grown by an exponential 60%. In comparison, the clothes and petrochemical industries have seen a decline of over 20%. Increasing investment in engineering resources and the manufacturing process has increased output while also streamlining the production process. In fact, innovation in the car manufacturing industry in particular has led to the pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline to collaborate with McLaren to improve its overall manufacturing output in an attempt to combat falling growth.

It is companies such as McLaren who are setting the example that many other British manufacturers are now attempting to follow. While the amount of investment certainly is not viable for many small and medium manufacturers, the ideals set in place offer a good guideline about what British manufacturing needs to aim for in order to excel in the current economic climate. The focus on technology has led to success such as in the electronics sector which manufactures some of the most innovative computer products on the planet. In fact, there is a growing wealth of small and medium manufacturers in Britain that provide components across the UK’s supply chains.

Technology in these industries aim to improve efficiency, reliability and affordability and it is something that all British manufacturers can aspire towards. This is an approach adopted here at Rap Industries with investment in state of the art printing facilities to ensure every graphic is completely unique and makes the best impact possible when our clients take them to exhibitions, trade shows or even when they display them in their office. In the future, the hones will be on investing more in the manufacturing process in order to streamline it and ensure each product is still shipped at the highest possible quality.

Flag of the United Kingdom, Union Jack

Benefits of supporting your local manufacturer

Key Benefits of Supporting Manufacturers in your Community

Buying locally is about a lot more than just supporting independent businesses. The impact generated by opting for a smaller business over a national chain can help to build your community and make life in your area better overall. Local businesses have been dying out in recent years to the influx of national chains seeping into town centres and villages across Britain. However, many out there still exist and more continue to be set up by budding entrepreneurs. Every business has to start somewhere and it is support from the local community which gives them the platform to develop and grow.

The main beneficiary of such support is in fact the community itself. In terms of financial impact, opting for a local manufacturer over a national one ensures money is kept in the community and as the smaller businesses are encouraged the grow, this over time can lead to more jobs and sustainable spending in other parts of the community. An added benefit is also that growing local manufacturers can offer higher wages and better career prospects than national chain stores.

When looking for a personalised gift or product, this customisation simply is not available with a national chain. With local manufacturers, the whole experience feels more personalised as they genuinely want your business. Unlike a large manufacturer that expects business to keep flowing through the door, a smaller manufacturer wants your business and will be more obliged to work with you to create your ideal order and make it perfect. Working with them over time can lead to developing a professional personal relationship which can result in reduced production times, discounts or even access to upcoming products. Here at Rap Industries, we work through the finer details with our customers to ensure every product we dispatch is tailored to suit our customer’s needs.

If for any reason there is an issue with your order, a common stumbling block when buying from national companies is the outsourced customer service team reciting a well-rehearsed script. Rather than banging your head against a wall for hours, buying from a local manufacturer ensures that in the case of a problem, you are guaranteed to get in touch with a knowledgeable member of staff immediately and they work with you to resolve the issue. This goes for at the start of the process too where they can advise which products will be best for you as well as other options which might provide an added extra that you had not even considered!

Investing locally can revitalise your community by providing jobs and keeping unique businesses which give your area an identity. Success breeds success and just a handful of successful start-ups signals the prosperity of your community which over time leads to further development. Having a strong relationship with businesses in the area creates partnerships between neighbours, residents and business owners which creates a strong foundation to develop a successful community that supports each other.



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