The United Kingdom is a strong manufacturing nation but is often compared to the strengths of competitor countries.
UKMR 2016 reviews the status of the manufacturing and engineering sectors in these peer group countries, focusing on the industries and technologies they are investing in:
The one-time low cost attraction of ‘Made in China’ can do nothing to decelerate what in 2015 was a sharp recession in some manufacturing sectors. Although the ‘One Belt, One Road’ programme has invested enormously in foreign infrastructure, China’s manufacturing overcapacity still matters. Low-tech firms are attracted to Southeast Asian countries that offer both cheaper labour and a cheaper environment – both in taxes and in terms of environmental cost.
China’s industry is changing shape, with service-oriented manufacturing progressing quickly. Internet financing has been like a spark igniting a prairie fire, creating ‘internet-alization’ of conventional manufacturing (aka Internet+). The recently released ‘China Manufacturing 2025’ may spur a new robotized industrial revolution, where intelligent manufacturing may upgrade ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created in China’.
The reputation for integrity and product quality of Europe’s biggest economy took a big knock with the Volkswagen diesel engine scandal, raising questions about the professionalism of the entire automotive industry. Beyond cars, Germany is investing in Industrie 4.0, aka ‘aka the fourth industrial revolution’, the digitisation of factories and integrated business data.
More a gradual evolution than revolution, digital factories are coming and Germany is, characteristically, leading the way. In a rapidly globalising world, as the British public weigh up the merits of Brexit, Germany remains an exemplar of internationalisation – but it is finding its efficiency is a barrier for new growth: Germany has many of the largest global markets covered.
- The US
The United States has some of the pre-eminent manufacturing technologies globally, is a leader in additive layer manufacturing, and is successfully exploiting new sources of energy such as shale gas. But scandals blamed on poor engineering have blighted the automotive sector in the US, while the drop-off in the oil price has damaged industry.
Oil and gas is at the centre of the biggest industry story of 2015, as states and industry groups queued up in October to file court challenges to block President Barack Obama’s controversial Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The authors of these chapters are mostly native journalists based in these countries/regions, or have strong links to that country.