News & Analysis

Research highlights five areas for business resilience

26th May 2021
Mick Elliott

Independent research commissioned by RS Components (RS), has identified five areas manufacturers should focus investment in to build resilience in their plant for long-term prosperity.

The findings are from the newly created Resilience Index – a comprehensive and unique investigation of six datasets from the past 20 years covering manufacturing investment, productivity, and employment to track resilience across some of the UK’s most prominent industries.  

The five key areas senior engineers should focus investment in to safeguard resilience for the future are:

  1. Anticipate Shocks – from cyber attacks to changing trends in customer behaviour, using thorough research and analysis.
  2. Resist Disruptions – build resistance to disruptions for example, through flood or cyber defences, or relationships with trade unions.
  3. Absorb Shocks – this could be through establishing multiple production lines or facilities or adapting product lines or finding substitutes.
  4. Invest in Recovery – in the broadest sense, not just IT – such as insurance policies, systems and a culture that enables remote working and other measures to get back to capacity.
  5. Innovate for the Future – innovation requires an outward looking, agile company culture – just the kind of attitude that helps to progress the previous four resilience-building investment areas.  Investing in transformation, including innovation and R&D is not just about making reactive incremental adaptions, but the proactive creation of new systems, products and, business models to ensure a business continues to be relevant. This type of transformation involves an element of target disruption to grow the business.

Emma Botfield, UK & Ireland Managing Director for RS Components, comments: “The Resilience Index research shows that, while the manufacturing sector is making progress in building its resilience, there is still more to do so it can improve performance, drive growth, and unlock opportunities. By implementing proactive investment strategies in line with those identified, senior engineers can strengthen resilience, overcome challenges, and add productivity value.

“At RS, we’re committed to assisting senior engineers to build resilience. By moving from being a catalogue-based product supplier to a digitally enabled technical solutions provider, we have become more strategic and a more important part of the customer supply chain. Our inventory, procurement and maintenance solutions are an example of how we’re able to help.”

The findings of the Resilience Index also acknowledge the importance of maintaining reliable infrastructure to drive operational resilience. However, the findings highlight that planned investment in manufacturing sector machinery, hardware and software is needed to build the strategic resilience required to meet and exploit emerging market demands.

The research shows that business (plant) investment has been on an upward trajectory within the manufacturing sector since 2009. The Resilience Index reveals that plant investment per hour* has been the biggest driver of gains in manufacturing, increasing by 77% over the past two decades. This is a greater rise than other sectors such as construction, financial & insurance, and agriculture. However, manufacturing investment growth has not been consistent over this period, with its biggest fall occurring after the financial crash of 2009, creating a situation that took five years to rebuild.

As far as manufacturing sub-categories are concerned, the Index shows that chemicals and engineering & vehicles have led the way in investment levels, whilst food production and metals & textiles have lagged behind, investing less than the manufacturing average.

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