Industry now ready to invest say advisers

Martyn Walker, Managing Director of Poole-based aerospace manufacturer, Walker AEC, which has just bought a number of machine tools from long term supplier Ward Hi-Tech, of Sheffield
Martyn Walker, Managing Director of Poole-based aerospace manufacturer, Walker AEC, which has just bought a number of machine tools from long term supplier Ward Hi-Tech, of Sheffield
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Small and medium sized manufacturing businesses across Yorkshire and Humber are getting ready to invest, according to the Manufacturing Advisory Service.

The Government-backed organisation’s latest MAS Barometer, exploring the health of the sector, found almost half of manufacturers in the region plan to invest in machinery and premises during the next six months.

More than a third of companies also said they were planning to spend more on introducing new technologies.

Plans for investment were underpinned by a rise in sales and growth expectations and new job creation.

More than six out of 10 SME manufacturers said sales had risen in the first six months of the year, seven out of 10 predict further growth over the next six months and four out of 10 firms are planning to hire new people, while almost half expect to maintain workforce levels.

Manufacturing Advisory Service area director, David Caddle, said: “Manufacturers tend to be very cautious and traditionally would need significant confidence in the long-term future to relax the purse strings.

“Encouragingly, the latest Barometer provides the clearest indication yet that companies are prepared to invest in new machinery and their premises in a bid to remain competitive and take advantage of significant opportunities both at home and abroad.

“It is a reassuring finding and appears to meet the EEF’s recent call for the sector to fund more research, innovation and export growth.”

Investment elsewhere in the UK has already resulted in a series of orders for Sheffield-based CNC machine tool distributor Ward Hi-Tech.

The company has secured orders for no fewer than seven high specification machines from aerospace manufacturer, Walker AEC.

Ward Hi-Tech has supplied Walker, based at Poole, in Dorset, with a mix of vertical machining centres and long bed lathes and is currently modifying a long bed lathe to create a deep-hole drilling facility for the firm.

Walker makes a range of aerospace parts, including landing gear components, fuselage drain valve bodies, complex hydraulic manifolds, throttle pedestal parts, flight control components and bearing retaining rings for both commercial and military aircraft.

The Poole firm’s managing director, Martyn Walker, was full of praise for Atlas Way-based Ward.

“Ward Hi-Tech has been very supportive to our business over the years,” said Mr Walker.

“The beauty of using a machine tool supplier such as Ward Hi-Tech is that they handle everything – the machine, tooling, finance, installation, commissioning, training, applications, maintenance. They take away the headaches.

“Every deal we’ve done with Ward Hi-Tech has been tailored to meet our specific requirements.”

The Manufacturing Advisory Service is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and helps manufacturers in England to improve and grow.