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

How the new industrial revolution could help a Detroit – and wider US – upturn

Detroit and the state of Michigan have been in the headlines a lot over the past few years  - mainly as a result of a welter of grim economic news including the city's  slide into bankruptcy.  But more recently have come some signs of a significant  improvement in the fortunes of the region, driven partly by indications of greater optimism and investments by local manufacturers including the big car companies. Among the Michigan manufacturers that have been hiring more workers and expanding production is Fullerton Tool, whose chief executive Patrick Curry is pictured here. Cheered by receiving positive news about their fortunes from Mr Curry and other local business people, I made a speech at an event in Detroit on September 17 examining the health of Michigan-based manufacturing.  The event was organized by the Detroit Manufacturing Renaissance Council, an offshoot

Why Americans love manufacturing: and how to improve it

Manufacturing Renaissance Councils: Models for Success? By Thomas Hemphill Americans generally agree that they want their nation to remain the global leader in manufacturing. According to Leadership Wanted: U.S. Public Opinions on Manufacturing, a 2012 national survey, 90% of respondents rated manufacturing as “important” or “very important” for their economic prosperity and America’s standard of living. This survey reinforces the importance of the manufacturing sector to the good health of the American economy. While continuing to expand its productivity over the last two years, the U.S. manufacturing sector has only modestly expanded its employment base. Since December 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported an increase of 231,000 manufacturing jobs, for a total of 12,028,000 employed in the sector. Yet the need to develop a long-term, stable supply of next-generation employees for advanced manufacturing industries is a challenge that

Fashion: A better business model

Inditex has become the world’s largest fashion retailer. But how long can its dizzying expansion last? By Tobias Buck, Financial Times, June 18, 2014  A few weeks from now, young women all over the world will decide that what they really want to wear this summer is a long, flowing trenchcoat with a buckle belt and soft shoulders. They don’t know it yet. But Manuel Ruyman Santos knows, and Inditex knows, and €17bn in sales says they will be right once again.  For the moment, the trenchcoat is a prototype, hanging on a clothes rack at Inditex´s sprawling headquarters in Arteixo, northern Spain. But Mr Ruyman Santos, one of the designers of the new garment, is confident it will be a success. Soft trenchcoats have sold well in recent months, so he knows the new creation will tap into a

The world struggles to keep up with the pace of change in science and technology

By Peter Marsh, Financial Times, June 17, 2014 Among the many champions of their own specific area of science and technology, at least Jennifer Holmgren, chief executive of Lanzatech, has something to shout about. The Illinois-based company is developing a chemical treatment capable of turning the carbon-rich waste gases of many industries into valuable chemicals and fuels. Ms Holmgren estimates that if all the waste gases of the global steel business alone were treated using her company’s process, the world would instantly find a way to create a fifth of the annual fuel requirement of the global aircraft fleet. The Lanzatech technology “challenges our perceptions of waste and will have a game-changing impact on the way we think about commodity sourcing and supply”, Ms Holmgren says. The ideas under development at Lanzatech are just one instance of the range of

Seven reasons we should celebrate manufacturing

By James Woudhuysen, Spiked Online, June 14 2014 Despite the slew of advertising for fashion, cars and appliances, hostility to ‘stuff’ – manufactured products – has grown enormously in recent years. Books have been published in America, Australia and Britain on the subject of what they call ‘affluenza’, the nasty and even infectious side-effects of owning too much stuff. Since 2011, two American corporate high-flyers, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, have together penned seven books on so-called minimalist consumer habits – quite a feat of trees-to-paper consumption in itself. The London-based futurologist James Wallman has popularised the idea of ‘stuffocation’  – the feeling you get ‘when you look in your wardrobe and it’s bursting with clothes but you can’t find a thing to wear’. And every Christmas, the Guardian denounces consumers for a ‘peculiar form of mental illness’: buying

Manufacturing takes the stage at Ways with Words festival in Devon

By Peter Marsh, May 25 2014 The UK features many great literary festivals - and of these the long-running Ways with Words event held in the splendid location of Dartington Hall (pictured left), in the countryside in south Devon, is one of the best. It's not often that the world of industry receives an airing at these occasions. But this year, there is a difference. I will be speaking on The New Industrial Revolution and its implications for the UK at the Ways with Words festival on July 10 at 6.30pm. Tickets are £10, available from the festival website. There are many other highly interesting speakers at this year's event, which starts on July 4 and lasts for 10 days. If you want to listen to Michael Meacher MP, he is speaking immediately before me, and afterwards it's Sir Harrison

Europe’s niche manufacturers make a mark in difficult economy

By Peter Marsh, Financial Times, May 19, 2014 The future is far from rosy for many manufacturers in Europe but Roberto Gavazzi, chief executive of Boffi, a top Italian maker of upmarket kitchen and bathroom units, is upbeat “I am very confident that the current difficult markets are getting better for the best brands,” he declares. Underlying this sentiment is Gavazzi’s belief that Boffi – like many other European manufacturers of a similar mould – has built up strengths not just in product creation but in using service and design skills to offer customers something special that would be hard to obtain from rival businesses. “Consumers are even more selective – they want to choose only those products that have a real added value,” he says. “So [they choose] not only design and function, as is normal for our collections,

End game nears in the war of the wheels

By Peter Marsh, May 9 2014 It is high noon in one of the world's longest running business battles. In beginning their competing efforts to acquire the prize of Alstom's electricity generation arm, Siemens  and General Electric have entered the final bout of a marathon heavy-weight contest to determine the identity of the global leader in power equipment. The German and US engineering giants have been sparring for well over a century for pole position in what could be termed the 'war of the wheels'. We live in an age dominated by passage of invisible globules of information passed silently over the internet. But the the global economy would come to a standstill without the spinning turbine machines central to the creation of electricity. Siemens and GE - set up within 30 years of each other during the 19th century's

An outsider’s approach at giant German Mittelstand business

By Peter Marsh, March 26 2014 Moshen Sohi has come a long way from the time – as a six-year-old in his native Tehran – he became fascinated by pictures of Caterpillar bulldozers and decided he wanted to be a mechanical engineer. Since those formative days, Mr Sohi has forged a career in manufacturing largely in the US, but has ended up in the quiet south German town of Weinheim where he is chief executive of Freudenberg, a family-owned business making everything from aerospace seals to mops. Holding forth in the company’s airy headquarters, Mr Sohi says he has been fortunate to experience a lot of different ways of running businesses, from the divergent styles of some of the big US companies that he worked for, to the time after joining Freudenberg in 2003 when he helped to run a

A French mid-sized success story in exotic technologies

By Peter Marsh,  April 15 2014 As a purveyor of subsea drones, blast doors and 3D printing machines for making replicas of human skulls, Raphaël Gorgé could be a James Bond villain in the making. But if Mr Gorgé has any threatening aspects to his personality, he disguises them masterfully as he describes his efforts to build up his collection of exotic high-tech businesses into a global force. Indeed, the chief executive and part owner of Groupe Gorgé is the personification of calm reasonableness, displaying a pleasant sense of humour as he explains what induced him 10 years ago to abandon a career in finance to join his father Jean-Pierre in an industrial company the latter had started in 1990. “My dad had achieved some progress but I felt with my background I could help steer the business in a

 

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