Private Dining | The Manufacturing Centre, Ansty Park, Coventry


Holmes Noble would like to thank everyone who attended and contributed to our roundtable held at The Manufacturing Technology Centre in June. Moreover, a special thank you to our co-hosts, AON, BGF and Lloyds for all their help in making the event such a huge success.

After a tour of the impressive facilities at the MTC, senior leaders sat down with us to discuss their thoughts about how automation affects the current U.K. manufacturing landscape.

The discussion around automation gave an insight into many key points on how automation affects recruiting, balancing risk and international trade.

  • Companies are having to take innovative approaches to capital investment to release recruiting pressures in a looming post Brexit environment.
  • Automation is one of the key ways to overcome recruiting challenges currently being faced by U.K businesses. However, SME’s are often fearful of the upfront investment alongside perceived long payback time frames, this coupled with a skills shortage around new technologies is preventing many SME’s from fully embracing automation.
  • Some suggestions to overcome this fear were investing in apprentices allowing companies cultivate the skillset they need in the younger generation. Also, understanding current workforces in-depth, perhaps through psychometrics and profiling to understand the strengths and weakness of the current team allowing the company to be able to identify skill gaps and recruit to fill them.
  • There was a consensus that although outsourcing labour to Asia is still seen as a value-added service, the cost of automation is the same worldwide. Which suggests that outsourcing does not provide equal benefits to implementing automation; instead, SME company need to find solutions to overcome the barriers to entry in automation.
  • One significant risk associated with the higher uptake of automated machines in SME businesses is the risk of hacking. The introduction of new technologies in a business needs to be accompanied by strict cybersecurity regulation.
  • Although there is much uncertainty around global markets, there is also a lot of opportunity for international trade.
  • One senior executive suggested that the best way to navigate moving into international markets is to get someone on the ground in that country, as the importance of “sweat equity” cannot be overlooked. He remarked, “anywhere ‘I’ve ever put a manufacturing footprint down in, with a physical presence in the country, ‘I’ve won a contract.”

This was an insightful evening; thank you to all involved.

We look forward to hosting our next roundtable discussion on the evolution of the modern CEO in October.