The Future of Scotland’s Manufacturing

Written by Graeme Robertson

09 November 2022

Manufacturing is continually evolving. Current innovations taking place in Scotland pose a very exciting future for Scottish manufacturers. The team at CB Technology has attended recent industry conferences - the 7th CENSIS Tech Summit and the Manufacturing & Supply Chain Conference & Exhibition. Both events saw the full spectrum of manufacturers in Scotland come together to connect and discuss opportunities to work together and place Scotland on the map as a global manufacturing hub. 

Taking the temperature of manufacturing in Scotland
One positive aspect we took from both shows was that the vibrancy of the Scottish Manufacturing Industry has been responsible for producing real stories of growth and success across a wide range of sectors. This is especially important for us at CB Technology as we take pride in our identity as a Scottish manufacturer with an international market and reliable distribution reputation. 

I personally take great happiness in seeing the success of my peers and colleagues. There is a breadth of exciting technological developments that are being led by Scottish companies, notably in IoT sensing technology and also developments in robotics. We are already seeing strong partnerships between academia and industry in terms of research and development, and the industry events provide an exciting opportunity for such conversations to take place. 

Working in partnership
The success of business is built upon strong relationships, understanding and sharing a common goal. These structures are much easier to establish and support when we have the ability to be physically close to the partners we need to develop and deploy products, which helps to explain why Scottish manufacturers have seen great success in recent years. 

For example, CB Technology’s work with environmental impact monitoring company Utopi involved multiple suppliers resulting in a product that was quick-to-market with mass production taking place at our headquarters in Livingston. The product development and production received support from several Glasgow companies including electronic design support from Censis and board layout by Orvio.

CB Technology acted as a focal point for the product roll out. We are now outputting one thousand fully tested units per month for this customer and are on a path to further growth. The key in all of this was open communication, interaction and close proximity with our customer which, above all, facilitated decisions being made in a timely manner. 

Challenges ahead
The biggest challenge currently faced by manufacturing is the ongoing pressure within the supply chain, not only for electronics but all aspects of the supply chain from basic resources such as wood to critical items like neon (which is sourced in the Ukraine and is required for use in the lasers that etch circuit designs into silicon wafers to make chips), palladium, nickel and vanadium to name a few. The result of this is the industry faces extended lead times and spiralling costs. This is compounded further by the cost pressures resulting from energy price increases.

However, the challenges we are facing are ones that have come and gone before in the cyclic nature of manufacturing. With good planning, solid design and extending order coverage, the industry can somewhat mitigate the impact and maintain continuity of production and output. 

What is next for Scottish Manufacturing 
Scottish manufacturing has experienced many changes over recent years and there has been a push from Scottish companies to keep their product development, production and supply chain solutions local. Where the trend had previously been a “local to global” solution which sought out reduced pricing, the trend we see now is a “local to local” solution that seeks the best overall cost of acquisition, balanced with the ability to tap into an excellent support infrastructure within Scottish manufacturing service providers like CB Technology.

The wonderful and rich history of manufacturing is perhaps mirrored by the future of what lies ahead for the industry. The developments and relationships the industry has been nurturing have placed Scotland in a solid and privileged position to set itself on the global stage as a collaborative manufacturing hub. 

Additional notes
We are delighted to see several other events being organised, such as The Manufacturer Directors' Forum and The International Conference on Robotics and Smart Manufacturing. We look forward to attending more of these in 2023.