Growing your manufacturing company 6.8 times more than the average
A recent report by The Markit, in conjunction with CIPS made for grim reading for members of the manufacturing sector. It found that whilst the sector did return to growth in May, that growth was poor.
Bad news, yes, though there is a silver lining for manufacturing businesses if they are willing to invest in people, technology and research.
There has been a shift in recent years from physical products to technologies that are entirely focused on the consumer. These technologies can be to the liking of any consumer, in turn, creating challenges for the manufacturing sector to keep up with demands that change and grow at a rapid rate.
The key is to prepare and create strategies that enable you to not only beat your competition but the market as a whole.
Investing in research
There are several components to such strategies that will ensure success. One example being the use and application of research and development - through this, businesses can create a sustainable and secure platform for outperforming. Despite 94 percent of manufacturers claiming that they undertake some form of R&D, most feel that they are not doing enough.
This is reflected in the national figures, with just 1 percent of Britain’s GDP being spent on R&D - half of what our German cousins spend, which seems to be working for them. Recent results found that a surge in investment in Germany lead to the fastest growth the country has had in two years.
Manufacturing companies don’t invest in R&D because they see it as a short term drag on profits but also because it’s difficult to measure ROI. Algorithms such as a Research Quotient, developed by Anne Marie-Knott at Washington University, enables manufacturing companies to analyse and measure how impactful an increase in R&D investment is for a business in the long term.
So whilst it seems daunting to make the first step - the proof is in the pudding.
Manufacturing is expanding and becoming a major component of economies across the world. BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are now becoming aware of the importance of R&D and its central link to growth. The knock-on effect for British manufacturing is the broadening of horizons in the form of increased demand by these emerging economies.
Product customisation is seemingly an open goal for British manufacturers to become a world leader in. The natural compromise between cheap goods benefitting from economies of scale and custom made expensive items has began to erode following the emergence of new technologies such as green production and additive manufacturing.
The University of Loughborough found that customers might be prepared to pay up to 10 percent more for personalised products indicating a real desire for that personal touch. The use of emerging technologies through investment has the power to create great opportunities for manufacturers to grow.
So with this in mind, manufacturers must learn to embrace new technologies. PwC described in a recent report that manufacturing was undergoing a ‘technological renaissance that is transforming the look, systems, and processes of the modern factory’ because of processes like advanced robotics and augmented reality.
Without investment in people and skills, manufacturing has little chance of growing to its desired rate. The stagnation we have seen in this sector is partly down to the skills gap we have in Britain - a 2015 report by the recruitment group Hays, found that economic growth is under threat due to a lack of skilled workers both in training and arriving from the EU. This ‘could blight hopes that Britain can overcome years of dire productivity performance, potentially denting its economic expansion in future.’ OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation & Development) research further enforces this in its forecast that by 2020 the UK will fall to 28th out of 33 countries.
How do you do it?
Talent is out there and in order to attract them, your company needs a manufacturing marketing strategy. Here’s a few pointers in the right direction:
Step 1. Map out your skills gaps, considering your core areas that are in need of attention. Here you’ll be able to determine the types of people required.
Step 2. Make sure you have a smart responsive website that acts more as a hub rather than a megaphone.
Step 3. Using this information, tailor your content and marketing messages to appeal to these personas.
Acquiring more talents lends itself nicely to an increased sales pipeline, as you now have the stability and skills to take on more projects that can be delivered on time and with quality as the main driver.
Things may look cloudy at the moment. However, with expertly crafted inward marketing strategies to attract and retain new talent, it’s possible that your business can get ahead of the competition. Taking that brave step towards disrupting a currently cautious manufacturing sector, there is a genuine opportunity for your business to grab this industry with both hands and reverse the stagnant trend.
For a more detailed look at the current climate of manufacturing and how your business can leverage societal advancements to grow 6.8x times faster than the national average, download our free report The Top UK Manufacturing Challenges of 2016
Joe Birkedale is Managing Director at Catalyst
Follow @ManufacturingGL and @NellWalkerMG
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.