British firms must spend to stay ahead
Competitiveness is a key priority for British businesses, with more than four in five looking to invest to improve efficiency and productivity. This is according to the latest Attitudes to Business Investment survey from Lombard, the UK’s largest asset finance provider. The research reveals:
- 82% of respondents are looking to invest to improve efficiency
- 71% say that investment plays a key part in improving levels of productivity, rising to 78% of manufacturers
- 62% said the impact of new technology would increase efficiency, nearly half (45%) said it would improve overall competitiveness while a quarter (25%) of manufacturers believe that it would drive exports
- 57% of all businesses and four in five manufacturers (80%) are planning to invest to support export in 2016
- For a third (33%) of manufacturers, export will be the main area of investment in 2016
- There was an acknowledgement of the need for Government support, with 70% of manufacturers saying that they would like to see more done to encourage export activity, particularly when it comes to cutting red tape
Ian Isaac, Head of Lombard, said: “It’s very encouraging that UK businesses and manufacturers in particular are taking an enterprising approach to the importance of investing to secure their place in the competitive global arena.
“The findings of the survey indicate that UK businesses are very aware of what they need to do in order to secure ongoing and sustainable growth. Within their business plans, investment aimed at securing innovation, improving productivity and establishing strong export markets will continue to play a fundamental role in the future health of the UK economy.”
The Attitudes to Business Investment survey is in very much in tune with what EEF The Manufacturer's Organisation has found from its members.
Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at EEF, the Manufacturers’ Organisation, commented: “It’s the worst-kept secret that the UK has a big productivity challenge. We’ve lost a lot of ground since the financial crisis, but the UK has some real potential strength in its industrial sector, which historically has a good track record in delivering productivity gains. The need for a laser-like focus on driving through efficiency improvements, innovating and investing in new technologies is central to the business model of manufacturers, a fact confirmed in this new research. While we see lots of concrete steps being taken by manufacturers to grow and be competitive in a challenging economic climate, the job is never done.
“To get manufacturing growth and productivity on a stronger trajectory we want to see more companies investing in major technological advances, a strong commitment to industrial strategy from government and finance providers working in partnership with industry to make investment plans a reality.”
Alby Pattison is Managing Director of Hartlepool-based Hart Biologicals, a successful medical science manufacturer that exports 80% of its products. Pattison said: “Lombard’s research finding that manufacturers are investing to support export matches our own experience. We’ve invested over £500,000 to date which has ensured that we are able to support new orders coming in and we’ll continue to expand our capacity to secure new export contracts.”
Isaac concluded: “The survey demonstrates that many UK businesses recognise that investment in innovation is needed to drive competitiveness and efficiency. These businesses are taking the positive steps needed to equip themselves to operate within the demands of the global marketplace. However, it will be vital that more businesses adopt the strategy of ongoing investment so that the UK continues to move forward.”
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Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing
Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing
What is Ultium Cells LLC?
Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”
Who is Li-Cycle?
Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.
As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”
Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?
By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.
“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).
"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.
"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.
Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.
"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.