Manufacturing in 2021 Things to watch

The way the UK manufacturing industry has stepped up to meet the challenge of supporting the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic has not only helped the country through hard times, but it has also fostered support for the industry. Research shows that 75% of people are now firmly behind the manufacturing sector.

The people of the UK believe that manufacturing genuinely has the power to help the economy get back up and running over the coming months. In this blog, we explore the developments to watch out for in 2021.

Corporate sustainability

Research shows that 88% of consumers want YOU to help them make a difference.

Last year was marred by the shocking consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, its devastating effects were far reaching. While public health, families and economies all suffered, sustainability stood out as a positive theme. In many cases, the pandemic actually fast-tracked public awareness of climate change and social issues.

Business sustainability – also known as corporate sustainability – is the management and coordination of environmental, social and financial demands. It is the key to ensuring responsible, ethical and ongoing business success.

Within the corporate world, the three pillars of corporate sustainability are sometimes referred to as the triple bottom line. This concept is a departure from the traditional concept of the bottom line, which evaluates all efforts in terms of their short-term effect on profits.

The goal of sustainability requires a more extended timeline for return on investment (ROI) but once initial investments are made, they can actually lead to increased profitability.

The benefits of corporate sustainability are significant. The initial savings – made by using resources such as raw materials, energy and water more efficiently – are easy to understand, but there are secondary benefits which can include reductions in environmental taxes such as the climate change levy. It can also turn the focus on suppliers, for example do you know how your supplies reached you and how they were manufactured? Equally, are your products simple to recycle? These are all areas to carefully consider.

A sustainable approach can also improve the reputation of your business and the products and services you offer. Many business customers now choose sustainable suppliers as part of their own commitment to sustainable development.

Smart manufacturing and digitalisation

According to a study from the MPI Group, nearly a third  – 31% – of production processes now incorporate smart devices and embedded intelligence.

Digital transformation is a combination of traditional manufacturing processes enhanced by new advancing technologies. Driven by technology, smart manufacturing aims to transform production and reshape businesses, establishing greater efficiency and better relationships between producers, suppliers and customers.

The Covid-19 pandemic has given a boost to smart manufacturing and digitalisation in many areas. This is particularly evident in the industrial environment. Processes around production have changed dramatically in the past 12 months in an attempt to protect the workforce and abide by Covid-19 restrictions. Processes have been digitalised with many being reimagined completely. Brexit has also prompted a trend to move away from offshoring and has seen numerous businesses reshoring to have more control of their production process.

2021 will be an exciting year from a technological perspective. Even with the approval of the two vaccines the pandemic won’t vanish overnight, so it is likely that it will continue to drive digitalisation in many areas.

Covid-19 exit strategy

20% of businesses will replace disaster recovery with resilience strategies in 2021

Disaster recovery is a key part of any business strategy, but it often concentrates on the short term. A Covid-19 recovery plan will require the development of long-term resilience as a strategy that supercedes disaster recovery. Thinking – and most importantly planning – ahead to a time beyond lockdown can’t start too early.  A staged return to normal life will take many months, but forward-thinking organisations should already be plotting a course to succeed in the environment that will follow on from this initial period of social and business disruption.

Refreshing or refining your business’ strategy doesn’t need to be daunting. It doesn’t need to be a major management distraction, but good strategy must comprehend the most pressing questions your organisation is facing and then making evidence-based, objective choices.

Covid-19 and employee safety

59% of businesses say they want to pay more attention to workforce safety

While an efficient rollout of an effective vaccine for Covid-19 bodes well for an eventual return to normalcy for the manufacturing industry, the impact of the current rollout won’t be felt for some time. In the interim, organisations will need to continue practicing social distancing in the workplace, restricting visitors to facilities, encouraging the practice of good hygiene, and ensuring employees are healthy and fit for work before allowing them on the job.

It’s been nearly a year since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and yet it remains a major challenge for manufacturers across the country and around the world. While companies do have plans and protocols in place to combat the virus, adhering to them and ensuring the health and well-being of employees is – and will continue to be – no small task in the months and years to come.

Shoring and resourcing (post Brexit)

57% of companies believe that supply chain management gives them a competitive edge

Reshoring is the process of moving the manufacturing of products from overseas to the business’ country of origin. These days, many businesses in the UK for example, find cost savings by moving their manufacturing production abroad. Of course, cost saving is not and should not always be the number one factor in manufacturing. However due to numerous lockdowns in manufacturing hubs in China, Europe and across the Globe, supply has been an issue for many throughout 2020.  Add to that the border delays experienced before Christmas and the potential complexities in the initial stages for companies post Brexit, and you have got a real challenge. Brexit reshoring and UK onshoring are on the rise.

Quality, product longevity and fast turnaround times as well as reliable delivery are all increasingly valuable. Reshoring manufacturing has both pros and cons, and businesses should think carefully about their objectives and potential challenges over the coming years as world economies recover from the impact of coronavirus and Brexit. It is also worth considering quality control and damage during shipments which can occur more frequently when products are in transit for longer periods, this isn’t an issue if products are sourced more locally.

If you would like to discuss the challenges facing your business and how Energy Technology and Control can support you, please contact us today to find out more.

51 Supply Chain Statistics You Must Know: 2020/2021 Market Share Analysis & Data –
Manufacturing News Round Up 2020 | European Springs
we take a look at the 11 trends that will dominate Manufacturing in 2021. (
UK Manufacturing Statistics (
Safety and reward top priorities during Covid-19 recovery – Personnel Today
Smart manufacturing: 5 industry predictions for 2021 – TechRepublic
51 Supply Chain Statistics You Must Know: 2020/2021 Market Share Analysis & Data –