Sage: Britain to become world’s 5th largest manufacturer by 2021

By Daniel Brightmore
Sage, a cloud business management solutions leader, has launched a report into the UK manufacturing sector revealing the adoption of new processes and t...

Sage, a cloud business management solutions leader, has launched a report into the UK manufacturing sector revealing the adoption of new processes and thinking to drive growth.

The Sage ‘Discrete Manufacturing in a Changing World report found that adopting circular economy and servitisation strategies are critical in driving new revenue and profitability opportunities for discrete manufacturers. The UK, compared to its global counterparts, is making good progress.

Sabby Gill, MD, UKI at Sage, commented: “It is exciting to see the opportunity for the UK manufacturing sector to grow and expand its position globally, especially in light of the political and economic uncertainty we’ve experienced in the UK. While sustainability will remain a challenge for the sector, our research indicates that British manufacturers are embracing it and looking at new models including the circular economy and servitisation, for growth. 

“The sector will need to address outdated business models and technology and a lack of IT infrastructure to capitalise on this opportunity. Using data more effectively will enable them to be more agile in the way they source, design, make and recycle their products.”

The Circular Economy

The report found 96% of British discrete manufacturing companies stated that they have been impacted by green manufacturing trends. As a result, nearly eight in ten manufacturers (79%) have adopted a system to eliminate waste and recycle existing resources, also known as the circular economy.

The vast majority of UK manufacturing professionals who responded  see the circular economy as a net benefit to their organisations from a brand reputation and profitability perspective. However, 65% said they face undertaking substantial transformation to take advantage of it – especially in adapting supply chain practices and balancing sustainability with the bottom line.

Three quarters of UK firms surveyed said they are in the middle of their transformations. Many are working on driving down waste in the supply chain and using data to better understand consumer demand, to adopting more environmentally friendly practices and creating new operational efficiencies. Interestingly, 2% of discrete manufacturers say they have a fully functioning circular economy business model, while a further 16% say they have nearly completed the transition to it. 


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Servitisation is the opportunity for businesses to expand their product lines with services and solutions. The report found that 66% of companies impacted by green manufacturing trends are pursuing a servitisation strategy. 88% of British manufacturers see servitisation as having a positive impact on their business. 

Today’s report shows that the UK could move from the eighth largest manufacturing country in the world, to fifth in the next 12 months. By harnessing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and robotics, there is a window for British manufacturers to re-establish itself as one of the top five manufacturing countries in the world.

Reacting to the report’s findings, Tim Figures, Director of Industrial Sectors, Technology & Innovation at MAKE UK, said: “The issue lies mainly in having access to the data to adopt the right technological solutions that will have an impact on sustainability. By better analysing data, manufacturers can better predict demand, which would help them drive down product wastage and improve productivity. 

“The smart use of technology - and above all data - has the potential to unlock significant improvements in productivity, hone their supply chains and explore more sustainable and digital business models.” 


The full UK whitepaper can be found here:


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