The British industrial sector of old is long gone, and in its places has risen a high-tech hub. October saw the announcement of a series of super-high-tech nuclear mini-reactors, which, according to The Guardian, will go a long way to achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 and will also provide a wide range of beneficial by-products for British manufacturing. Produced entirely by British business, the plan is a triumph in a British manufacturing industry that has gone from strength to strength on the back of technological innovation.
A big part of the technological revolution in manufacturing has come through changes in how everyday processing is conducted. To be productive, the average factory needs to be smart, and that’s being seen today. Changes in common factory line machines and tools, such as conveyor belts and robotic pickers, are powered today by complex systems that incorporate machine learning, elements of AI, and sophisticated new standards in how machines are constructed and operated. The proof is in the pudding; according to the BBC, UK manufacturing rates have grown to 30-year highs in 2021, despite there being massive shortages in both labour and materials. That factories are well-equipped to deal with long-term shortages and still drive up productivity is a massive benefit for the wider economy.
Keeping it in-house
One lucky aspect of the wider industry is the fact that British business can afford to generate its own materials for production. As City AM highlights, one of the main reasons that Cornwall was chosen as a host for the 2021 G7 conference is its position as one of the largest new lithium extractors around. Indeed, Wired found that current efforts will be enough to power 500,000 electric vehicles every year – an important aspect of any modern manufacturing industry in order to reduce reliance on the likes of China and California in producing the metals needed in sophisticated fabrication.
Centres of excellence
This drive towards high-tech manufacturing is having a positive feedback effect. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers highlighted the need for a concerted long-term strategy and was clear on how that could happen. Through putting the knowledge, experience and good news stories promoted by engineering’s successes back into the educational sphere, a new generation of students can learn exactly how high-tech took off in the UK. Indeed, there are already centres of excellence reflecting this, from the transportation-focused areas of Derbyshire through to the aerospace areas in Bristol and the South-West. With manufacturing flying high and setting an example to other countries in how to get it right when it comes to high-tech pivots, it’s important that that success is preserved and highlighted for future generations.
That will preserve the good work achieved by British manufacturing businesses and set the country up for success in the future. This will form the backbone of future British industrial strategy, and a diverse post-service economy that can rely on the strength of its own production.