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Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?
2

Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

(OP)
Sheffield Forgemasters was declined a government loan of £80 million to build nuclear reactors parts. This would have created a couple of hundred jobs plus many more in the supply chain. The reasons given by the UK government are lack of funds. If ever there was a case to give UK manufacturing a leg up then this was it!

Is there an anti nuclear agenda here?

http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/Labour-urges-rethink-on-Sheffield.6440193.jp

Chris
www.value-design-consulting.co.uk

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Not sure how the public mood in UK is towards nuclear power plants or anything that has something to do with nuclear technology. But in other (European) countries nuclear stuff is not very popular. And politics listen to that as the next elections are not far away. The few hundred people that do not have a job due to the government's decision are negligible compared to the hundred thousand voters who are against nuclear technology.  

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

==> The reasons given by the UK government are lack of funds.
Why can't that be the reason?  Isn't this from the same government whose Prime Minister flew commercial to the USA to save money?

I know that honesty and fiscal responsibility are rare occurrences from governments, but maybe, just maybe, the UK has found a good one.  Now, if we can just follow that lead.
 

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

The PM flew commercial because he didn't want to be tarred with the same Blairforce 1 criticism as the previous PM.
It has nothing to do with money.
This is the guy who made a point of cycling to parliament with the  press in tow ... and with his official car following.

The Liberals have acquired control of a lot of key cabinet posts in an unnecessary coalition and their dominant influence on policy are the best advert for first past the post there is, the energy secretary is more green than green.

At the same time the liberals popularity, never high, is now at an all time low. (In the tory party the veiled murmerings are becoming distinctly audible.)
It doesn't sound like people are supporting his plan to fill the landscape and seascape with wind farms.
Nuclear was a reasonably popular/necessary option. And somewhat against its will the outgoing government made a commitment to nuclear.

The real test will come in a couple of years when we suffer frequent brownouts due to energy shortages.  

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Oh, and yes. It is another nail in the coffin.
Remember that all those wind farms will be supplied by overseas companies and manufactured in China.
 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

There seems to be a lot of politics going on with this. The out-going labour party were offering support for all and sundry, knowing that they could never deliver what they were promising.

The whole thing got a lot more shady thanks to Andrew Cook, who apart from wanting to buy into Forgemasters is also is a major contributor to Tory funds and appeared to lobby to get the loan stopped.

So if it was decided that £80M for 200 jobs did not represent good value, or if something more sinister is going on is anyones guess.
http://www.theengineer.co.uk/news/conservative-donor-tried-to-invest-in-forgemasters/1003907.article

With regard to the wind farms jmw could not be further from the truth.
http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&;category=News&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=NOED29%20Mar%202010%2019%3A59%3A35%3A643

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

We'll have to wait and see.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Strangely Nick Clegg, aka Cameron's fag, represents the Sheffield area... well for now anyway. From the Conservative point of view I doubt that increased unemployment in the north of england, where people would tend to switch back to Labour, would be of any consequence. Now if Sheffield was relocated to Hampshire it might be a different story, by 'eck. It is a blow to manufacturing when the government is hoping that the private sector will fill the gap caused by the loss of jobs in the public sector. Shallow words indeed.

Tata  

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Maybe things have changed, but all my time there, I'm not sure the govt ever seemed to care more about Hampshire than elsewhere - both labour (who used to do well in Portsmouth & Southampton) & conservative.

I wonder, is the Siemans plant really going to be making them and/or sourcing materials 'locally', or is it just an assy plant for imported components?

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

I think it is possibly a Trojan Horse.
It is there to be seen to deliver UK employment, not much but some and that we will probably see that Kenat is right, it will probably be a final assembly, component marshalling site.
 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

(OP)
Wind farms may be an alternative to nuclear power in a couple of decades but for now they only produce a small fraction of the power we need. The fact is that we need nuclear power stations and we will be getting them anyway, it's a shame that we can't build our own and when a  medium sized company like Forgemasters tries to take the initiative to actually make something for a change they get sand kicked in their face.

Chris
www.value-design-consulting.co.uk

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

The argument I last heard was that Forgemsters should be able to get a commercial loan rather than relying on tax-payer money.

Whilst this is perhaps true, I don't think it sends the right message with regard to improving our manufacturing capability as a nation. After all, we won't get wealthy selling houses to each other and taking in other people's washing. Though I'm surprised by the number of people I know who think we can.

Incidentally, there has been a remarkable warming towards nuclear power amongst my friends and acquaintances over the last couple of years. It's a shame we have Chris Huhne as "Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change".

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

I've always referred to the curious coalition leaders as "Ant 'n Dec" (UK TV presenters apparently cojoined since they first appeared)
I'm never sure which is Ant and which is Dec and have no idea why they are so popular, and which I thus thought appropriate as a label for the coalition leaders since I never know who is in charge of the coalition.
Cameron appears to be prime minister but the policies are very heavily liberal and almost the entire liberal party have ministerial positions.
There are rumblings in the Tory rank and file and it was left to David Davis to label them "Brokeback Mountain.
I bow to superior wit.
Thing is, the coalition energy policy is not at all what the Tory energy policy was and is dominated by liberal thinking and especially that of Chris Huhne.
Fox in charge of the henhouse? Pretty much.
There are signs, slight, of revolt. If Cameron secures his 55% deal (how is that going?) he won't need the liberals or maybe he won't need the entirety of his party to be safe.

Cameron is not someone I'd trust and said so prior to the election. His deal with the liberals and his subsequent actions haven't exactly confounded my distrust.
I'm pretty sure we are headed for a disaster.  

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

mrgoldthorpe wrote - "After all, we won't get wealthy selling houses to each other and taking in other people's washing. Though I'm surprised by the number of people I know who think we can."
I believe these statements to be true, but I wonder if they oversimplify the situation. What do others think? It may be a long time before we in Canada (and the West)can compete with China and India in manufacturing and assembly. So what remains? We in Canada survive on resource export although large segments of our population would rather we left them in the ground. Whither?

HAZOP at www.curryhydrocarbons.ca

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

somewhat offtopic,

what strikes me in Europe is that a lot of people do not feel the need to do more than is solely expected. The importance of work seems to degrade in relation to leisure/family time.

Income is strangely not soley related to work it seems. If not from your employer, money will come from the government somehow.

This mindset is not the mindset they had post WWII, fiercely rebuilding industries/economies.

Most concerning, it seems the upcoming economies are now running on such "post WWII mindsets", which works out great for them.








 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

"After all, we won't get wealthy selling houses to each other and taking in other people's washing." - Over simplification or concise analogy, I'd tend toward the latter.

The idea of a 'service economy' always seemed a bit off.  Recirculating the same chunk of 'wealth' gradually dripping it out in the form of more imports than exports doesn't seem very sustainable.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Unless teh idea of teh service enocomy was to export serviecs rather than things to teh rest of teh world: don't make & export cars, but export the car designs and engineering to foreign car makers; don't make & export ships but export ship brokerage and certigiying...

Of course, the questions to be asked are: are there enough jobs in ship borking and engineering design for 65 million people in teh UK and does the UK education system produce enough people with the right skills to go into these jobs?

So you might end up with a service enonomy where a smallish number of people are highly trained and educated, with highly paid, pretty secure jobs in engineering, finance, law, and a large number of people either unemployed or in low paid, low skilled call centre type jobs.

oh.....

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Drillernic,
Could you please return my computer.
I have missed it very much since it disappeared.
I know you have it from the unique key dislocation fault that shows up in your post despite auto-correct and spell checker programs.
The feature which buffers "h's" until they can be placed after "e's" as in "teh" is one of the characteristics by which this individual computer can be recognised.
I lost this computer some time ago but have a strong nostalgic feeling for it after seeing your post.
I may pay a small reward.
I would guess a couple of beers would be acceptable?

Before you think of denying it, I should add that I recognise too the "i before e except after c" aberation.
I think "services" is the more usually preferred spelling, however this is another uniqueness that I recognise. Hence your spelling this as "serviecs" is a dead give-away.

What a lot of people don't know is that whereas once upon a time typewriters were uniquely identifiable by their typeface just as fingerprints and bullet markings are, the same is also true of computers leading to a new branch of forensic computer sciences within law enforcement and which now extends to spelling anomalies as well as programs that analyse word orderings, frequencies etc. and can identify the user.
I think you would be well advised to accept my couple of beers "reward" rather than have Interpol pounding on your door.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Driller Nic you raise an interesting point that makes the idea of a service economy slightly less stupid, however, I find it hard to believe it can work.

If you can show me an example of a country where it has I'd be interested though.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

KENAT, working just fine in the US, as long as you're not working in a call center...

At least for now...

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

KENAT, I was just being facetious, that's what the "At least for now..." meant.

I think the idea of a mainly service based economy is crap, and in fact many services are now being off-shored. After all, if some one else can do it cheaper...
But, as a call center worker, what do you do next?

I admit I don't understand what's called the economy these days well at all. Except maybe as an insiders' game.

Regards,

Mike
 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

DrillerNic identifies a probelm that jmw has picked up on, ie. that teh workforce with teh knowledge abd experience is gettnig older, is not being replaced, and can hardly see teh keyboard never mind the screen. The UK governemnts attempt to rectify this probelm by raisign the retirement age to 106, or whatever, to keep these aged and half blind workers on won;t solve the problem in my view. Braille computer screens mayeb?

Tata  

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

jmw- ha ha ha... I guess I just can't type!

The work that I do as a Drilling Enigneer is a service- my last employer, Schlumberger, was an oil service company who make it very clear that they sell a service and not things: they won't sell an oil company a drilling tool, but they'll rent it and an engineer to them instead.

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Kenat- the "service" type economies that I've mentioned tend to work better in smaller countries (ie those with smaller populations).  Within the EU, the countries with the highest contribution from the "service" sector (however defined) are Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland.

One thing that is interesting is that as the age of industrial societies with mass production used to be seen as bad: things like the dehumanising effect of mass production, with workers having no scope to influence working practices and the physical arduousness of manual work meant that the move to the service economy was seen as good thing in the 50's (the last thing many parents wanted for their children was to follow them into the mines or onto the shop floor).  But now the mass production industrial age is seen as a sort of golden age with full employment for life....

One difficulty is that the working class used to be able to sell their physical strength (as soon as a working class person was educated enough to sell their knowledge they became middle class!), and that's no longer possible in a service economy and it's getting much harder to do in a high technology manufacturing economy too.  Can a role can be found for the part of the population that used to sell their strength in the new high tech manufacturing and service economy that the UK is/ has become?  Educating them all to a higher degree so that everyone can take their place in the bright new high tech future of the UK will be expensive, and in the UK, where a technical education has always been the poor relation to a academic education, difficult (for example, the low status of engineers compared to say, doctors in the UK is due to this disdain for anything that might be a bit "hands on" or technical).  Or we can take the low road: with the loss of mass employment, mass production the lower skilled part of the population may be condemned to working in the low tech service economy: call centres, care homes and the like, with the same low status, low pay, low prospect for advancement as before but without the protection of low unemployment and large scale employers with fairly fixed employment relationships and large unions, in an increasingly unequal society.

Right now, it looks like the UK is headed down the low road....
 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

I guess my concern is that even if you had infinite university places etc, I'm not convinced all folks are naturally suited/have the aptitude to take advantage of it.

Some people just seem better at 'crafts' rather than at more 'intellectual' pursuits.  

I'm certainly not saying the intellectual are fundamentally better than crafts either.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Hi DrllerNic,
I too once worked for Schlumberger - in the days they made things to sell.... Schlumberger Instruments.

You raise an interesting point though. I have despaired of the various "manufacturing" companies I have worked for. They wanted to sell standard off-the-shelf products.
Customers wanted to buy solutions.
Of course there is always a wide gap between what the sales force kept selling or trying to sell and what the companies made. The size of the gap was always proportional to the missed opportunity.
By selling solutions you add value and you have a more saleable solution and you exploit your in-house skills base to its larger potential. Much is simple profit on factoring in the necessary valves, pumps etc. manufactured by others and most can be done on sub-contract so most of the necessary engineering and drafting skills can be outsourced to the fabricator.
This ought to be money for old rope but a surprising number of companies I have worked for where resistant to any form of innovation.
In the longer term these are the companies that got bought out by others and asset stripped.
 
 

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

After reading this thread, I can't see distinct differences between British perceptions of their economy, and the direction in which I believe the US is headed (we just may be lagging behind slightly).

With respect to favor for nuclear power in the EU: doesn't France produce almost all of their energy via Nukes? With a 75% debt-to-GDP ratio, they're by no means economic wizards, but I'm pretty sure French citizens enjoy cheap, abundant energy.

-TJ Orlowski

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

They do and they sell the surplus to the UK.
The only trouble is in hot weather. Most of France's reactors are on rivers and shut down when the river flow is too low. In the UK they are on the coast.
So when the UK energy deficit finally catches up with it, which won't be long, and discovers all those wind turbines to be useless, it won't be so able to call on French surplus.

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

jmw- I think Schlumberger Instruments still makes stuff, but it's a very small part of SLB compared to the Oilfield Services division.

TJOrlowski- indeed France generates a lot of its electricty via nuclear power stations.  In terms of their economic policy, they've chosen a particular version of free market capitalism: quite highly regulated, with good legal protection and good standard of living for those in employment, but with the price of quite high unemployment.  But it's pretty sucessful (several world leading companies such as Total, Lafarge, Thompson, LVMH, EADS) and so far they haven't had any problem servicing their debt.  And their expereince of teh recent recesion wasn't as bad as the US.

Yer pays yer moeny and yer makes yer choice!

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Article in today's Gaurdian about the lack of a recovery in UK manufacturing which has some interesting points (what exactly is manufacturing?  Should the UK government have an export finance and insurance arm?  Why doesn't the current UK goverenment even have a trade minister?)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/aug/09/why-uk-exports-not-recovering

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Driller Nic
The bit I worked for was flow and process analysers. Neptune and Solartron. Neptune also made domestic water meters so Schlumberger also bought a domestic gas meter company (Thorn EMI) at the wrong time and a domestic electricity meter manufacturer to complete the set and then set about remote reading systems etc..

All gone their separate ways now.

They had some link to oil and gas, but very little to do with exploration.

Essentially I was there at the end of the diversification phase of the cycle and the beginning of the divestment and core activity focus phase - these are said to be 20-25 years cycles most major companies go through.  

JMW
www.ViscoAnalyser.com

 

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

DrillerNic- 88% debt to GDP ratio here in the states, I wasn't knocking down the French energy policies as that would be silly compared to the policies adopted by our elected officials over the last two decades.  I'm not saying you were refuting my point, just wanted to make the clarification.

-TJ Orlowski

RE: Is this another nail in the coffin for UK manufacturing?

Perpetual economic growth is ultimately a pyramid scam anyway, regardless of whether you underpin it with manufacturing or services.  The only way we can pretend to maintain it in the developed world even now is by deflating our currencies.

I too don't see how you can expect a society to survive solely on selling insurance and video games and cellphone service to itself.  I also see many of the services, including our own profession of engineering, being increasingly outsourced to lower-cost labour markets.  Nobody is immune- apparently, even the Japanese are out-sourcing call centres, despite their unique language.  Apparently, many of the people who work in these call centres are young Japanese who can't find work at home, and settle for lower wages offset by a lower cost of living in countries like Thailand etc.

As far as the fundamental value proposition, we've found in our own business that it is far easier to be paid properly for engineering if you sell an engineered product rather than man-hours (selling "solutions" as one poster put it).   

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