12 Feb How to improve Productivity in the Manufacturing Supply Chain – Diffusing Excellence across the UK Casting and Metalforming Sectors through Research Fellowship

A new Research Fellowship has commenced, funded by the ESRC RCUK Innovation fund, and based at the Enterprise Research Centre team at the University of Warwick Business School.  The Fellowship is being supported by two of the leading trade associations in the Advanced Manufacturing supply chain – the Cast Metals Federation and the Confederation of British Metalforming, and their member companies. With a three-year duration, the Fellowship will focus on building an understanding of the productivity distribution within the casting and metalforming sectors, both of which are dominated by smaller companies, with a few larger groups and multinationals.

The overall aim of the Fellowship is to identify key practices which can contribute to productivity upgrading in each sector and to explore potential approaches to stimulating their diffusion to lower productivity firms.   Identification of those factors which can generate productivity gains and barriers to further adoption, as well as exploring approaches which will lead to strategies being developed which can encourage the wider adoption of best practice.

Key objectives from this work include a desire to understand the distribution of productivity across the two sectors and how this has changed in response to business growth. How large is the gap in productivity between leading edge and lagging firms?  Which practices have contributed to significant productivity improvements and is it possible to quantify the impacts?  Is it possible to quantify the potential productivity and performance gains from adoption of identified practices and what are the barriers to the adoption of leading edge practices across the metals supply chain?

Research Fellow, Temi Akinremi, has now been appointed by the project lead, Professor of Enterprise and ERC Director, Professor Stephen Roper, and is looking forward to working with the two industry sectors: “I am very hopeful that the outcomes of this project will enable us to learn what can work and really start to make a difference for UK manufacturing”.  Temi has an Engineering background and is just finishing off her PhD in Engineering Management at Coventry University. As a process improvement enthusiast, Temi focuses on industry process improvements and she is excited at the potential possibilities that the outcome of this research will have in the casting and metal forming industries: “The casting and metalforming industries are key industries in economic development and I am hopeful that the outcome of this research will steer the industry sectors towards innovative practices evidenced by increased productivity gains”.

As Pam Murrell, CEO of the Cast Metals Federation said, “The programme of work being undertaken, with the close cooperation of industry, through employers and the trade bodies, as well as the academics from the ERC, should provide a valuable insight into strategic approaches that can help to improve productivity in the wider metals sector”.

Geraldine Bolton, CEO of the Confederation of British Metalforming, agreed: “Our sectors face a number of challenges, including the costs of raw materials and energy, as well as sometimes old equipment and skill shortages.  I am hopeful that this project will enable us to find out about the barriers and limitations to improved productivity and then identify solutions”.

Angela Mason
Angela Mason