SME manufacturers are looking for productivity gains from their workforce and existing equipment ahead of investment in automation, according to The Engineer.
The quarterly survey asked over 280 manufacturers how they plan to increase their business’ productivity, with 43 per cent saying they will invest in new equipment and only 40 per cent planning to recruit to meet future sales increases, which look set to continue.
A further 47 per cent of respondents said they expected profits to grow in the next six months, while 41 per cent have seen profits increase over the last six months.
Manufacturing has proved relatively buoyant in recent years despite economists’ warnings that the UK’s productivity continues to lag behind its major trading partners such as the US, France and Germany.
With the impact of Brexit further underlining the importance of efficiency, the government’s industrial strategy for addressing the UK’s ‘productivity puzzle’ has increasingly looked to robotics and automation to boost productivity levels.
However, when asked how they would most like to improve productivity, most respondents to the National Manufacturing Barometer said they are prioritising smarter working practices and better utilisation of existing equipment over new equipment or automation.