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RFID and fibre optic sensing firms win 2021 Queens Awards

A Cambridge-based company which has developed a patented technology that solves challenges associated with RFID (radio-frequency identification) readers, has won an Innovation award in this year’s Queens Awards for Enterprise.

Employers are offered up to £8,200 to take on an apprentice

Some smaller manufacturers can now receive up to £8,200 for hiring a new engineering apprentice by combining support schemes, according to the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC). In his budget earlier this year, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak doubled and extended the financial incentives available to support employers who create new jobs for apprentices.

UK manufacturing PMI almost broke all-time record in April

The UK manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) came close to setting an all-time record in April when it hit 60.9 – its highest level since July 1994, when it hit a peak of 61. The monthly survey, compiled by IHS Markit and CIPS, reveals that the growth of output and new orders were among the best for seven years, but the sector is still suffering from supply-chain delays and input shortages, leading to increased purchasing costs and record selling price inflation.

47% of manufacturers have suffered cyber-attacks in past year

Almost half (47%) of UK manufacturers have been the victim of cyber-crime during the past 12 months, as staff began working remotely after the Covid pandemic struck. According to a new report from the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, cyber-criminals have been exploiting the emergency working measures, with almost a quarter (22%) of companies saying that each cyber-breach cost them up to £25,000, and 6% losing more than £100,000 after an attack. The automotive sector is the most common target, with 62% of companies in the sector reporting that they have suffered a cyber-attack in the past year.

UK manufacturers most optimistic for nearly 50 years

Optimism among UK manufacturers improved at its fastest rate since April 1973 during the three months to April, while investment intentions saw a strong, broad-based rebound, according to the Confederation of British Industry’s latest quarterly Industrial Trends Survey.

UKIVA cancels plans for in-person machine vision event in July

UKIVA – the UK Industrial Vision Association – has announced that its 2021 Machine Vision Conference & Exhibition (MVC), which it had been planning to hold in Milton Keynes on 15 July, will now run as an online event as a result of the continuing Covid-19 travel restrictions, especially within the EU. The Association is planning to hold its next physical conference and exhibition in Milton Keynes on 28 April 2022.

Invertek launches recruitment drive as sales hit a record

The Welsh drives-maker Invertek has launched a recruitment drive following a double-digit increase in sales during 2020, and record figures for the first quarter of 2021. The company – which was acquired by Sumitomo Heavy Industries in 2019 – is planning to expand its innovation and manufacturing departments.

Super-deduction tax spurs manufacturers’ spending plans

Almost a quarter (22.6%) of UK manufacturers are planning to boost their investments as a direct response to the “super-deduction” tax that chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in his recent Budget, with more than a quarter (28.1%) more saying they will bring forward their investment plans. But, according to a new survey by the manufacturers’ organisation, Make UK, just under half of companies (48.6%) do not expect to make any changes to their investment plans as a result of the new tax, or say that their plans are too rigid to change.

UK-developed EV motors are ‘world’s most sustainable’

A British start-up motor developer has announced what it claims are the world’s most sustainable motors for electric vehicles (EVs). Advanced Electric Machines’ motors contain no rare-earth magnets or copper windings. It says they offer all of the performance and efficiency benefits and permanent magnet motors, without their environmental drawbacks.

UK manufacturing index hits a ten-year high in March

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for UK manufacturing hit 58.9 in March – its highest level since February 2011. The month was also marked by improved growth of output, new orders and employment – and by longer supplier lead times. Manufacturing output increased for the tenth month in a row and at the fastest rate since November 2020.

Work starts on robot centres in Edinburgh and Salford

Construction has started on a research facility for robotics and artificial intelligence in Edinburgh that will be the largest and most advanced of its type in the UK.

£28.5m initiative aims to keep UK ahead in drive tech

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is investing £28.5m in nine facilities across the UK aimed at building a competitive drive and motor supply chain across sectors including industrial, transport and energy. The programme, part of the Driving the Electric Revolution initiative, will build on existing capabilities and fill gaps in the UK’s current capabilities in PEMD (power electronics, machines and drives) technologies. The facilities are due to start operating later this year.

HVM Catapult leads project to tackle the UK’s skills gap

The UK Department for Education has appointed the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVM Catapult) to lead a project to develop high-quality modular courses aimed at upskilling employees to help address skills gaps in sectors such as manufacturing and engineering.

Make UK raises growth forecast from 2.7% to 3.9%

Make UK, the organisation that represents UK manufacturers, has upgraded its 2021 growth forecast for the sector from 2.7% to 3.9%, following a survey that shows output increased in the past quarter following three quarters of shrinkage.

Brexit has raised costs for more than half of UK manufacturers

Brexit has increased costs for 51% of UK manufacturers, with 35% saying they have lost revenue and one in five that they have lost potential business due to Brexit, according to a new survey by the manufacturers’ organisation, Make UK. The study reveals that 74% of the companies quizzed have experienced delays since the UK ended its transition period for leaving the European Union on 1 January, with 28% experiencing hold-ups of 1–2 weeks because of goods stuck in transit and other delays.