Precision engineering in the UK has taken some big hits in the last 30 years, but despite all the battering it has received from numerous sources, it remains one of the most important industries the country has to offer.
The last few decades has seen the decimation and decline of some areas of engineering in this country, such as the automotive industry, shipbuilding and large scale manufacturing. Huge, important companies have disappeared from the map, and previously thriving areas of the country, such as the Midlands and the North East, have taken immense knocks as one large employer after another falls by the wayside. The employment holes that these closures have left have been very difficult for communities to recover from, but as people find other sources of income, the engineering skills and knowledge that are lost can never be recovered.
However, precision engineering in the UK is nothing if not adaptable, and there are still enough companies working in this important sector to keep the country as one of the major players in the global engineering market. Indeed, because of the intense pressure that it has been under, the industry has become much more competitive and streamlined than it ever was before. Companies have had to become much more resourceful in order to survive, and any precision engineering company that remains profitable has to be very lean and mean in everything it does. All aspects of the business must be as competitive as possible. Manufacturers must carefully consider how to get the best out of every available resource, including labour, machinery, and floor-space. Versatility and adaptability become much more important, and where in the past one engineer might expect to work on the same machine every day for many years doing the same job, nowadays he would have to be proficient in a number of disciplines. Training and re-training throughout the working life has become the norm, and with the price of land becoming so high, engineering workshops have to carefully limit the amount of floor-space they use. Prices have to be trimmed as close to the bone as possible, lead times become shorter and shorter, and consequently quality has improved greatly. With all of this constant monitoring of performance data, the whole industry has become much more focused than in previous decades.
This can only be a good thing for the customer, because they know that the service that they will be getting is top-notch. One such company that has gone from strength to strength during these times is Machined Precision Components Ltd, a precision engineering company in Watton, Norfolk.
Director Nick Overton states:- âWe know from our customers that quality is most important, but in such a competitive market place all jobs have to be keenly priced or customers will go elsewhere. We have to make sure that we work as efficiently as possible, and this means our productivity has benefited greatly. The best way to cut waste is to make sure you get it right first time and every time.â
This continued vibrancy is vitally important to the UK economy, because precision engineering not only generates a huge amount of income and employment on its own, but it also has many other sectors of business that feed off of it, and in some cases rely upon it. These include accountancy, haulage, power supply, tool suppliers, and office supplies.
UK precision engineering is still a force to be reckoned with!