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PM announces electrotechnical apprentice standard

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced an electrotechnical apprenticeship standard as one of 11 sector-based standards that will act as blueprints for new apprenticeships, guided by companies from each sector.

UK manufacturing jobs grow at their fastest for 33 months

Last month, the UK manufacturing sector added jobs at the fastest rate since May 2011. The sector maintained a strong upswing during February, with levels of production and new business continuing to rise at above-trend rates, according to the latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) survey.

Apprenticeships are twice as popular as degrees

More than twice as many young people in the UK are choosing engineering apprenticeships compared to those doing degree courses, an analysis by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has revealed.

‘Spend to save’ scheme will back efficiency projects

The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) has joined forces with Societe Generale Equipment Finance (SGEF) to provide £50m of finance for energy efficiency projects, with each institution committing £25m to the scheme. The funding will help public and private sector organisations to cut their energy costs and emissions without having to fund the finance upfront.

86% of SMEs in England are planning to invest

A new survey has revealed that 86% of small-to-medium sized manufacturers in England are planning to invest in capital equipment over the coming 12 months, and are planning to spend an average of £121,000. The survey of 864 SMEs ­– the largest number to take part in the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) Barometer survey since its launch in 2012 – confirms the findings of a recent CBI survey.

UK robot-maker claims six-month paybacks

A Shrewsbury-based industrial robot manufacturer has launched two models – a turnkey gantry-style robot and an articulated robotic arm – which, it believes, will end the need for manufacturers to use second-hand robots. The launch of the robots follows several years of development by Armstrong UEN, which was founded in 2009.

UK robot sales dropped by 7% during 2013

The number of industrial robots sold in the UK during 2013 fell slightly from 2012 when a record number of 2,476 were sold. During 2013, the number fell to 2,305 – a 7% decrease ­– according to figures released by the British Automation and Robot Association (Bara).

Social media sites pose risks for control systems

Data in blogs, social networking sites and other online media could be used to mount cyber-attacks on the UK’s critical infrastructure, according to a new report from the design and engineering consultancy, Atkins.

Smaller UK manufacturers are planning to invest

The UK’s smaller manufacturers are planning to boost investment in equipment over the coming year, according to a survey of 335 small and medium-sized manufacturers conducted by the Confederation of British Industry. A balance of 14% of the companies quizzed for the CBI’s latest SME Trends Survey reported that they are planning to invest in plant and machinery – the highest level since July 1995.

Rising demand boosts output and jobs in UK industry

Improving domestic demand and rising levels of new business from abroad are helping UK manufacturers to continue their recovery, according to the latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers Index (PMI). The January survey shows that companies have scaled up their output and taken on new staff to cope with the rising numbers of orders.

Drives and motors network will be UK’s largest

ABB has created a global network of third-party companies to sell, service and support its drives and motors products. In the UK, this network of Authorised Value Providers (AVPs) will supersede the 15-year-old Drives Alliance and Motor Service Partner schemes, although most of the companies involved in the earlier schemes will also be part of the new network.

More than 500 exhibitors line up for MACH show

The 2014 MACH manufacturing technologies exhibition will have at least 15% more exhibitors than were at its previous outing in 2012. The show’s organiser, the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA), says that one of the show’s two halls is already sold out, and that more space has been booked in the second (Hall 4) than in 2012.

Move to larger premises leads to faster motor deliveries

The motors and automation manufacturer, WEG, has moved to larger UK premises in Redditch, Worcestershire, allowing it to cut lead-times for motors, drive and control equipment and to process orders faster. It will also be able to help customers more quickly with technical problems or custom modifications.

Cameron visits reshored fan production plant

Prime Minister David Cameron has visited the West Sussex headquarters of the fan-maker Vent-Axia to see assembly lines that the company has bought back to the UK from China. The production lines have created 35 new jobs and boosted the number of assembly staff at the site by 50% compared to before the reshoring.

£10m sensor centre will help Scotland to tap $60bn market

A £10m centre dedicated to developing sensing systems and technologies has been inaugurated in Scotland. The Glasgow-based Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems (Censis) will bring together 12 Scottish universities with industry partners to collaborate on the early stages of new product development.