The 2016 Advanced Manufacturing, Materials & Engineering Report
The AMME Report was launched on the November 2016. The Chair of the study was Dr. Rob Hardeman, Vice Chair of the MATRIX panel.
This study represents our most comprehensive report on Advanced Manufacturing, Advanced Materials and Advanced Engineering (AMME) in NI to
date. Building on the 2013 UK Foresight Study – “Future of Manufacturing: a new era of opportunity and challenge for the UK”, the report re-examines the future of advanced manufacturing in Northern Ireland and its importance to the local economy beyond 2016.
Over the course of this study we engaged with many AMME business leaders, academic partners,representative associations and government bodies – locally and nationally. What we learnt from that engagement, combined with the use of extensive data sets from a wide range of sources is that there is a surprising level of sustained activity and export achievement given many reports of the “demise of manufacturing”. We have a strong manufacturing heritage, which still lies at the heart of industries in NI.
In fact, there is still a higher percentage concentration of manufacturing businesses here than there is in the UK as a whole. During the downturn, manufacturing industry here kept on track better than other UK regions. R&D didn’t fall away and exports, largely speaking, remained strong. So we have a big and vibrant sector with a fascinating range of companies and products and the signs are good.
NI AMME needs leadership and a voice. In terms of looking towards key opportunities for growth in the future, we need to identify, grow and compete in the global market on our key strengths – and to do that we need to, as a region, exploit that which differentiates NI AMME from its competitors. We need to shout from the roof tops NI’s AMME reputation for innovative design and the world leading quality and reputation of our engineers. In the report we talk about NI AMME’s ‘strength in adaptability’ – the sector has shown its ability to diversify and respond to the changing demands of manufacturing of the future, which when combined with an already high degree of specialism and excellent service, means NI AMME is ideally placed to take advantage of niche global requirements – always building on the great heritage and brand of NI engineering.
The AMME Economy – Facts & Figures
NI has a strong cohort of individual AMME companies making a very significant contribution to the local economy – these companies are competing globally and are Research & Development and Innovation (R&D&I) intense.
Critical mass :
AMME activity in NI (whether formally clustered or not) exists around three leading areas:-
- Aero, Defence, Security & Space (ADSS)
- Materials Handling (MH)
(together these 3 groups account for 39% of top AMME performers).
In addition there is evidence of strong performance within:
- Construction Products
(together these three groups account for 29% of top AMME performers)
Significant and unique:
Individual companies classified within AMME as ‘Highly Specialised Individuals’ together account for over 30% of top AMME performers.
Heritage and innovation:
The ability of NI’s AMME businesses to innovate successfully and diversify to pursue long-term growth paths is clear.
Investment in R&D over a prolonged period and sustained throughout the downturn is a clear signal that R&D is embedded across the top 200 AMME performers.
Many of NI’s top 200 AMME companies (38%) are established 25years +; of which over a fifth can trace their roots back more than 40 years.
Respected and globally renowned – a strong brand:
Irrespective of the particular area of AMME they are employed in, NI’s AMME professionals are globally respected, with NI engineering firmly reputed for excellence in quality, innovation and cutting edge design.
What AMME companies told us – what matters most to AMME companies in NI today?
Frequent and consistent themes:
Consistent with many other AMME communities, by far the most important issue concerning NI’s AMME leaders is the availability of the right number of relevantly qualified workers at the right time. Matrix wholly endorses the earlier findings of the 2015 NI Skills Barometer and the recent and proposed developments within NI Apprenticeships. In that context, AMME skills are considered in detail in the report, along with a number of suggested potential recommendations to Government, Industry and Academia.
As with skills, the issues raised are not unique to NI, and not all are of equal concern to each AMME company. However, when taken together, the key concerns around energy, foreign exchange, corporation tax, rates stability, logistics costs and others present significant challenge to a sector which has been under persistent threat over recent decades. There is a general acceptance that some of these areas fall outside NI control. However, the recommendation to government is that, when policy is being developed, that the impact on NI’s AMME businesses is front and centre of decision making. This report points to the recommendations relating to costs within the 2016 Oxford Economics report commissioned by Manufacturing NI.
NI’s combined AMME strength is a formidable force, in any context. The companies have grown, diversified, survived the recession, sustained their investment in R&D and are now hitting global playing fields with renewed purpose. The impact of sectoral development already undertaken is evident (e.g. the Aerospace, Security & Defence Group (ADS) and SC21 for the Aerospace, Defence, Space & Security sector and the work of the Northern Ireland Polymer Association for polymer businesses). With confident and ambitious leadership, NI’s AMME combined capability can be further developed and promoted effectively for the benefit of all. The report draws out specific recommendations pertaining to sectoral development.
As part of the research for the AMME report, we asked Business Eye editor Richard Buckley to conduct interviews with the leaders of some of the most innovative companies in the sector.
The NI AMME sector is diverse, with activities ranging from aerospace, automotive, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals to heavy plant, automotive, agri-tech equipment and construction products. These case studies illustrate the strength and vibrancy of the wider AMME sector.
You can click on the links below to read the case studies, or download the full case study report.