The Manufacturing Engineering and Technology Alliance (METALL) is a new regional forum aimed at bringing together businesses in three complimentary sectors to promote good practice, share experience and provide problem solving opportunities between peers. Based around a proven format where each meeting will hear from experts and specialists on a particular subject, followed by a roundtable opportunity to discuss wider issues, METALL is the successor to the Sussex Manufacturing Forum, widening the scope of membership to the engineering and technology communities, as well as geographically.
Why do we need METALL? Well, pretty much everything we see, touch and use has been designed, engineered and manufactured. Our world, good and bad, reflects our ability as a species to innovate. The industrial revolution saw the pace of change and the development of technology-based manufacturing accelerate and of course the United Kingdom led the charge and carved out an empire in the process.
Fast forward to now and some would say that in the UK we are living in a post industrial age. While the service sector does generate more wealth than the manufacturing sector, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Everywhere we look we see the result of industrial design and mass production. From the ubiquitous iPhone (designed by London-born Sir Jonathan Ive) not a minute of anyone’s day can be lived without constant interaction with the manufactured and engineered world.
The UK is still the 11th largest manufacturing nation in the world coincidentally contributing something like 11% Gross Value Added to the economy and employing around 2.6 million people. Despite problems in certain areas such as oil, gas and steel production, the UK sector has ambitions to do much more. The automotive industry in the UK for instance, exported over 1.2 million cars last year – the highest ever total.
In and around the Gatwick Diamond, we have some of the world’s premium manufacturing, engineering and technology brands operating on our doorstep. From Rolls-Royce Motor Cars at Goodwood to Elekta Oncology in Crawley, from Ricardo in Shoreham to Bowers & Wilkins in Worthing, and from Varian Medical Systems in Crawley to Sony in Horsham – the list is impressive. In number terms, Coast to Capital our Local Enterprise Partnership estimated in 2014 that there were over 3,400 Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering businesses in our region employing over 33,000 people.
The METALL remit will primarily be about helping the sector to improve and grow, coalescing opinion around such things as skills and apprentice training, funding, transport infrastructure, localisation of supply chains and by discussing subjects such as the next industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
The launch event is centred around ‘Innovation’ with Dr Robert Pearson, (Cobham Antenna Systems) and Dr Zoë Webster (Innovate UK). We’ll be looking at what innovation means together with some route maps on how to achieve and fund it.
Robert Pearson has been involved in the field of military communications, satellite technology and antenna systems for over 30 years. He has also been closely involved in civil aerospace, having recently led the Cobham team’s contribution to a highly innovative collaborative research programme into next generation civil aircraft communications technologies. Prior to becoming Head of High Value Manufacturing at Innovate UK, Zoë led the Technology Team at the Technology Strategy Board. Previously Zoë worked in the defence industry for seven years (QinetiQ and SEA) as a researcher specialising in artificial intelligence, developing new algorithms and prototypes for a range of civil and defence applications.
The first METALL breakfast meeting is set of Tuesday 12th July at Roffey Park near Horsham – further details and sign up can be found on the METALL website at www.metall.org.uk
METALL is sponsored by Carpenter Box, ask law and CBSbutler.