A new survey suggests digitalisation has become
key to survival for small and medium-sized manufacturers.
If small and medium sized (SME) manufacturers are to
survive, they need to invest in digitalisation, according to a survey conducted
by Made Smarter, which explores how UK manufacturing industries can prosper via
integration of digital technology tools and innovation.
SME manufacturers across all sectors are being urged to accelerate
technology adoption to adjust to the economic challenges around the supply
chain, energy costs, post-Brexit and Covid.
Made Smarter conducted the survey of 200 SME manufacturers in the North West
of the UK. The results highlighted how the last two years affected them, and
their approach to digitalisation and their priorities going forward.
The survey revealed while many (35%) makers, particularly smaller
businesses, are focussed on survival after a turbulent few years, achieving
growth by improving productivity and adopting digital technologies are key
drivers for SMEs.
In fact, two-in-five manufacturers (38%) revealed they had plans to invest
in or adopt new technology in the next two or three years. Meanwhile, one in
three respondents said their latest business strategy included integrating
digital technology or a roadmap towards automation.
The survey also showed that manufacturing leaders are exploring a range of
technologies to revolutionise the way they make and distribute their
Almost half (44%) expressed an interest in data and
systems integration technologies, while two-thirds were considering industrial
machinery, robotics and automation.
The survey also tapped into attitudes towards technology adoption where it
found almost a third (29%) cited productivity, efficiency, and output as key
drivers for manufacturers in 2022 and beyond, despite the current business
climate. Increasing revenue (18%) was the secondary motivator to invest in new
digital tools, followed by attracting and winning new customers (17%).
However, while the majority (80%) of manufacturing leaders expressed a clear
understanding of what they need to do and the benefits of investing in new
technologies, once they are aware of the benefits, barriers to adoption
Two in five (42%) manufacturers said that the lack of capital and funding to
invest was holding them back from investing, as well as the lack of time (10%).
The survey also revealed a fragmented awareness of the business advice and
support available, meaning SMEs are potentially missing out on valuable funding
and support available to them.
Donna Edwards, programme director for the Made Smarter adoption programme in
the North West, said the findings of the research show that the case for
digitalisation has never been stronger.
“SME manufacturers have endured a few unsettling years and continue to face
a multitude of recovery challenges,” she said. “They are aware that technology
brings significant benefits and they risk being left behind by not capitalising
on the opportunities on offer. But it is also clear that they need support and
advice to create a roadmap to digital transformation to enable them to adopt
the right digital tools, progressively and sustainably, to avoid risking wasted
time, money and effort.”
Edwards added: “Digitalisation is the key to UK manufacturing’s post-Covid
survival, recovery, and growth. And with new challenges at our door, such as
rising energy prices, supply chain disruption and labour shortages, now is the
time for business leaders to reach out and take advantage of the support on
According to a recent report,
digitalisation, nearshoring and reducing the number of options in stock have
helped clothing, footwear and accessories brands cut lead times by almost half
in the last two years.
By Just Style