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News


to recover froM covid-19 Brexit uncertainty weighs heavy


on sMe Manufacturers looking


according to the latest Manufacturing Barometer. The report, which gathered intelligence from


J


409 companies across the country, revealed that uncertainty is still holding many management teams back, with 47 per cent admitting they have no idea how the transition out of the EU will affect their business. This worrying message is reinforced by an


industry that is still besieged by COVID-19 and living with constant changes to the way they operate. Sixty-two per cent of respondents are still trading below pre-pandemic levels, whilst more than a quarter feel it will take between one and five years to get back to normal. Conducted by the SWMAS (the South West


Manufacturing Advisory Service) and the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), the survey is the largest of its kind in England and highlighted that nearly half of SMEs are still not convinced that the financial support currently in place will be enough help them survive Covid-19. When asked about the financial assistance they


require now, the top answer from 43 per cent of respondents was grants towards capital investment. This shows an appetite to spend, in order to improve productivity and achieve more sales, but indicates that further support is still needed to make this happen. Nick Golding, managing director of SWMAS,


commented: “SME manufacturers have been battered by COVID-19 and now they have the


ust three per cent of small to medium-sized manufacturers in England believe Brexit will have a positive impact on their recovery


additional challenge of recovering with Brexit looming large on the horizon. “It’s like a perfect storm for management teams


trying to plan, but have no idea what they are planning for and many are also coping with lower levels of resource as a result of the pandemic. “Our findings tell us that the majority of firms do


not think the transition from the EU will be a positive for their business and more support will be required to help them adjust to the new trading conditions, whatever they eventually look like.” He continued: “Many manufacturing firms will be


affected by issues, such as information transfer from Europe and new labelling requirements, even if they only supply into the domestic markets. The message is clear, businesses will need to regularly review the government transition support page for further clarity as and when it is published. “There are some positives in the findings. Nearly


a quarter of companies have seen an increase in trade and a further 14 per cent say that sales have not been affected by COVID-19. This highlights the innovation of our SMEs and their ability to adapt in order to supply customers in new markets.” The Manufacturing Barometer, which is used to


inform future Government industrial policy, highlighted a general recovery in performance from England’s small to medium-sized manufacturers. Twenty-eight per cent of companies have


increased sales between April and September as the marketplace has picked up slightly, with 40 per cent predicting growth over the next six months. Encouragingly, nearly a third are expecting to recruit more staff and similar numbers are


committing to investing in their business - a seven per cent increase from the number who predicted this in July’s Barometer. This reinforces the fact that a number of SME manufacturers are prioritising investments now to enable growth going forward. Martin Coats, managing director of MGP,


picked up the story: “One of the key things we wanted to identify this time is what support companies are actually looking for to cope with the current situation and, ultimately, the assistance they need to grow. “Boosting productivity and process development,


such as automation, was the main priority (35 per cent), followed closely by skills development (34 per cent), product diversification (33 per cent) and support to enter new markets (31 per cent). This has probably been accelerated by the impact of COVID-19 and companies looking for ways to access new sales opportunities quickly.” He concluded: “This is really important


industry intelligence that we can hopefully use to lobby Government for bespoke support and more tailored financial grants to meet these pressing needs.”


www.swmas.co.uk/knowledge/manufacturing- barometer


oxford Brookes racing teaM leverages tektronix equipMent to help create their first electric car


T


ektronix has announced a partnership with Oxford Brookes Racing (OBR) from Oxford Brookes University, with


the team of students using Tektronix test and measurement equipment to help create their very first electric car. OBR is the award-winning Formula Student


team from Oxford Brookes University. OBR has competed in Formula Student since its inception in 1999; each year the team compete with the goal of designing, manufacturing and racing, a single seater race car, in engineering design competitions held across the world. The team consists of 70 students, who, in their shift from combustion to electric, are creating an exciting test bed of innovation for electric vehicles and controls software. It was in the 2019/2020 season the move to electric began and that’s where the partnership with Tektronix started. OBR have been using a selection of


Tektronix equipment for advanced inverter 6


and high voltage system development. This equipment has given the team the ability to rapidly test and validate prototyped electrical system concepts. Additionally, this partnership opens up further battery electric vehicle research within the motorsports field. “We are very excited at the


opportunity to support OBR with their electronic engineering practice at Oxford Brookes University with Tektronix and Keithley equipment in an effort to ‘Go Green’,” said Tektronix’s Maria Heriz. “Vehicle electrification will continue to increase and accelerate in the decade to come. The connected car, new powertrains, regulations and advances in power electronic technology are coming together to create a new blueprint for automobiles.” “The Tektronix equipment has given students


the ability to develop the skills and knowledge needed to design and build an award-winning


Formula Student vehicle. Additionally, this partnership has furthered the university’s battery electric vehicle (BEV) research by aligning researchers and students with a common interest. We are very exciting to be working with Tektronix and look forward to future success,” added Brady Planden, associate lecturer at Oxford Brookes University.


uk.tek.com November 2020 Instrumentation Monthly


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