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Manufacturers increasing their software budgets to boost innovation

Margi Murphy | Aug. 7, 2014
Businesses must keep an eye on 3D printing and new technology says NatWest manufacturing lead.

More than half of manufacturers are increasing expenditure on software and technology over the next three years so they can keep up with competitors, a study has found.

As the UK economy returns to growth, 53 percent of manufacturers are planning 'moderate increases' in spend on software adoption, with 17 percent planning a 'significant increase' over the next three years, according to the innovation monitor survey by NatWest and manufacturers' organisation EEF.

Further, 59 percent of manufacturing companies will see 'moderate increases' to their adoption of technology spend.

The report stated: "Investments in software can help companies innovate successfully in a number of ways. For JJ Churchill, a precision engineering firm based in the East Midlands, efficient processes are central to their cost competitiveness.

"They use software to monitor the effectiveness of production processes accurately and quickly. This data helps them to identify which innovative projects they should invest in next."

Yet manufacturers are concerned about falling behind their competitors in the innovation stakes, the study revealed. Despite the boost in R&D and adopting new software, manufacturers have grown increasingly worried since last year's report.

Twenty-six percent of respondents said they were falling behind competitors due to the level of investment their organisation was making in innovation, up from 19 percent in 2013.

Mark Eastwood, head of manufacturing for business and commercial banking at NatWest, said: "The factories of today are a far cry from those of old, and businesses need to continue to have a serious focus on investment and innovations to remain competitive. In order for us to compete with other countries, the UK needs to seek out growth opportunities, we must invest in technology and innovation.

"New technologies, such as graphene and 3D printing, could very well revolutionise our manufacturing base. Businesses must always keep an eye on what's coming over the horizon and adapt accordingly."

Now is the time for CIOs to tune in to 3D printing, a Forrester analyst recently advised, as the technology will pave way for new products, processes and delivery models.

EEF surveyed 158 of its members across SME and enterprise size for the study.


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