Peter Marsh is a writer and lecturer on 21st century manufacturing. His best known book is “The New Industrial Revolution: Consumers, Globalization and the End of Mass Production”, published by Yale University Press. Peter gives speeches on how countries and companies can capitalise on the opportunities made possible by the new industrial revolution.  In recent years Peter has given these talks in 16 countries including China, the US, South Korea, Italy and Lithuania. In 2017 Peter’s events included lectures in Brazil and South Africa. In 2015, Peter started Made Here Now, a website about UK manufacturing. From 1983 to 2013 he worked at the Financial Times where his most recent job was manufacturing editor. Peter has a degree in chemistry from the University of Nottingham. His other books have covered microchips (“The Silicon Chip Book“, Abacus), robotics (“The Robot Age”, Abacus) and the space industry (“The Space Business”, Penguin). Before the FT, Peter was employed as a journalist at the Luton Evening Post, Building Design magazine, and New Scientist. Photo: Frederik Jimenez

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Observations

Polish-Canadian brings new verve to UK engineering education 

If you ask Prof Janusz Kozinski to name the people who have most impressed him since he moved to the UK, he has no hesitation: “When I've given talks at schools I've been immensely encouraged by the young people who want to talk to me afterwards about what I’ve been saying. On each occasion I’ve had perhaps 50-100 people wanting to know more.” Carrying a new message into schools is at the heart of the project the Polish-Canadian academic is leading to develop new ways of teaching engineering. One of its key objectives is a big increase in the number of women who choose to study the discipline. Since the summer of 2017 Kozinski (pictured above) has been chief executive of New Model in Technology and Engineering – a new university based in the country town of Hereford. A more memorable name for the establishment – possibly Hereford Engineering University – will

Networks and niches create twin track to success

The head office of Blaze in an old industrial building in London may look unimpressive – but it’s at the centre of a web of relationships that connect the small bicycle accessories maker with collaborators spread globally. Blaze is among the exponents of the manufacturing network, an idea growing in importance as production companies particularly those in niche fields step up ways to link with others. A young company with just over 20 employees, Blaze is a pioneer in novel lighting for bicycles. Its best-known product is a new form of “forward looking” laser illumination that warns motorists a bicycle is moving towards them and so cuts accidents. Emily Brooke, the company’s founder and chief executive, pictured above, is a regular visitor to China to check out key component producers. She adds: “We use Japanese batteries, some of the components [in our electronics] are Japanese or Korean, the laser is

UK electronics businesses thrive as slimmed-down specialists

Over the past 30 years the whole of UK manufacturing has become increasingly a collection of small to mid-sized companies making specialist goods in low volumes. Yet few sectors illustrate this trend more vividly than the business of producing electronics and electrical goods. As recently as a few decades ago the sector was populated by companies that were large and well known, if somewhat unwieldy in structure and erratic in the way they were managed. In place of the likes of GEC, Plessey and ICL that made products including white goods and telephones familiar to just about everyone, these companies' equivalents today are businesses excelling in niche areas of electronics in fields that in many cases are barely recognisable. The companies that are the leaders today are generally a lot smaller than the giants of the past. And as  Britain along with most other high cost nations has retreated from most consumer facing

Japan’s robotic global champion

In a hall in a big aerospace plant near São Paulo, four yellow robots perform a series of snake-like manoeuvres as they clean and paint the exterior of giant fuselages being made by the Brazilian aerospace producer Embraer. The robots are among roughly 400,000 of the machines installed worldwide by Fanuc. The Japanese company is the world's biggest robot producers. Over several decades it has built up a near godlike status among admirers. The picture here shows a Fanuc robot during a demonstration at an industrial fair in Germany. Holmes Osborne, a US financial commentator who publishes GuruFocus, a newsletter, says:   "Fanuc is the best robotics company in the world, bar none.  If what everyone is saying is true, that the world is to be run by robots, Fanuc will have a ring side seat and is the stock to own." Another view comes from a senior executive at a big Japanese machine

How China can build brands

Goodbaby is a Chinese manufacturer of children’s  “utility” products - push chairs, infant car seats and the like - with a growing reputation. With 11,000 employees and seven research centres in Asia, the US and Europe, the company dreams of establishing a name that resonates as strongly as Coca-Cola or BMW. Much the same is true of Chinese equipment giant Sany - which thinks it's on the way to cementing its global brand through the purchase of Germany's Putzmeister concrete machine maker. One of Putzmeister's truck-mounted machines is pictured above. But for all China’s progress in creating some big and powerful companies, observers are divided as to whether Chinese groups such as Goodbaby can create global brands that compete with the dominant corporate giants. By forming an impression in people’s minds, brands make it easier for companies to sell their products and services, whether to individuals, businesses or governments.  The stronger

What listed giants can learn from private businesses

Escorting his visitor past an array of expensive machine tools, Damon de Laszlo explains why he has avoided seeking a public listing for his engineering company. "I'd have to start justifying my spending on investment and innovation to a board of directors," he says. "And they might be a pain in the neck." Mr de Laszlo is disdainful of many public companies that he says are run in a woefully short term manner. "If I didn't spend £1m to £2m a year on equipment and other capital investments I'd increase profits significantly, but in the longer term the company would fall apart. The inhibition at board level [in many public companies] is enormous." The blunt speaking Mr de Lazslo (pictured above and below, with one of his youthful employees) is chief executive and owner of Harwin. The company based near Portsmouth in southern England. It's a global leader in a

Schools promotion of engineering ineffective and wasteful

Britain does a poor job in conveying modern views of engineering to young people and encouraging more of them to choose it as a career, according to a hard hitting assessment of the decades-old struggle in Britain to update public perceptions of the discipline. "The lack of engineers in positions of influence in society is mirrored by a lack of understanding of the importance of engineering and the role engineers play, compounded by our inability to communicate that engineering is exciting," says an authoritative report by a top barrister and civil engineer. In the study Prof John Uff highlights "the importance of marketing [of engineering related subjects] in addressing misperceptions and prompting enquiry" but says this is inadequately addressed in many schemes operated either by the engineering profession or educational groups. "STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] options are, for some young people, loaded with perceptions of limitations," the report

Britain climbs the world manufacturing league table

Britain has improved its position among the world’s top manufacturing nations, moving up the league table to its strongest position since 2008 The UK was the world's eighth-biggest nation by manufacturing output in 2015 – the most recent year for which internationally comparable data are available – with just over 2 per cent of total output, according to calculations by Made Here Now based on the latest figures from the United Nations' statistical database. The numbers underline the relative strength of Britain's position in world manufacturing, even in the face of the rapid advances over the past 20 years by developing nations led by China, which claimed the largest share of world manufacturing in 2015 followed by the US, Japan, Germany, South Korea, India and Italy. "This performance reflects the renaissance that manufacturing is currently undertaking through a consistent focus on innovation, research and development and high-value skills," said Terry

A gaze into the future for the world steel industry

Book Review: Steel 2050: How Steel Transformed the World and Now Must Transform Itself. Rod Beddows has an immense amount of knowledge and experience about the steel industry and this comes through in this book. He has achieved one of the prime aims he has set out to accomplish: to give a young person just setting out in the sector a primer about the business's evolution and key ideas for the future.  He does this very well. I liked the historical material about how the steel industry has reached its current position of being a key supplier to just about every part of the global economy - but with technology and experience having driven down prices so much that the industry today struggles to make any money. There are some good points too about how the industry needs to change: for instance how it has to do better at offering

Made Here Now will showcase British manufacturing

A new website to tell the world about modern UK  manufacturing has been launched in the setting of a stunning 3D-printed model of London. The project has received support from 47 organisations from business, government and public life. Behind it is the aim to use the best writing, photography and design to paint a more upbeat picture of UK industry than is often seen in most mainstream media. A key aim of www.madeherenow.com is to use a fresh approach in an effort to tempt more young people into the sector. According to many involved with manufacturing industry, children and teenagers are often dissuaded from considering manufacturing as a career choice due to its poor image. The launch took place at New London Architecture in London, against the backdrop of a superb 1:2000 model of London, made using modern techniques including 3D printing. The model was made by Pipers, a small

 

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The New Industrial Revolution: Consumers, Globalization and the End of Mass Production
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