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The Friday Roundup – 23/11/2018

Every Friday, we round up our top 5 most popular reads from the week, along with sharing some of our favourite finds from around the web.

This week’s roundup sees the world’s biggest Quorn factory open in the North East, 1,100 new jobs predicted with MHI Vestas expansion, plus a look at some of the most impressive manufacturing images of 2018…

Our top 5 most read this week

1. Manufacturing activity improves in November

Manufacturing output growth picked up in the quarter to November and firms saw overall order books rebound from a fall in October, according to the latest monthly CBI Industrial Trends Survey. The survey of 381 manufacturers found that output volume growth accelerated in the three months to November, outpacing the long-run average. Output expanded in 13 of the 17 sub-sectors, with growth driven by the food, drink & tobacco, motor vehicles & transport equipment, and chemicals sub-sectors. Firms expect output growth to slow somewhat over the next quarter. Meanwhile, total order books strengthened in November after worsening in October, and were more robust than the long-run average. Export order books improved marginally following a weakening in October, and, likewise, remained stronger than the historical average. The CBI added that it expects UK manufacturers to continue benefitting from ongoing global economic expansion and a lower sterling exchange rate, but overall economic growth is expected to remain subdued, reflecting weak household income growth and the drag on investment from Brexit uncertainty. Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Chief Economist, said:“It’s encouraging to see an improvement in the manufacturing sector after October’s stark survey, with order books and output growth on the up. But the future prosperity of manufacturers depends on getting the Brexit deal right. The overwhelming message from business to the government is to make progress, don’t go backwards.”
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2. Winners of National Manufacturing Photography awards revealed

Gifted photographers from across the country picked up honours in EEF’s National Manufacturing Photography Awards at an exclusive Westminster ceremony. The competition, which is sponsored by Liberty House Group and in partnership with the GREAT Campaign, is now in its 9th year and seeks creative images that capture the essence of modern manufacturing. Photographs can portray any stage of manufacturing – from design, process and technology in action through to the finished product – and can cover traditional or high-tech sectors. Winners were split into the categories of young, amateur and professional photographers, and this year’s spectacular photographs can be viewed on the link below:
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3. Quorn opens world’s biggest meat alternative production facility

The world’s biggest meat alternative production facility has officially opened at Quorn Foods’ Belasis site in Billingham, in the North East. The factory expansion of 9,500m2 will double production capacity of Quorn’s core products, adding approximately 20,000 tonnes per annum. It is part of a £150m investment by Quorn Foods, reflecting an increase in flexitarian and vegan diets, and the fact that the UK is the most advanced meat-free market in the world. The efficiency improvements delivered by the expansion will help Quorn Foods continue to reduce its carbon emissions per tonne of food produced, already down by 35% since 2012. Opening the facility, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “This new multi-million-pound facility, which will double Quorn Foods’ output, shows the firm’s confidence in our area as a great place to invest and do business. It brings with it good jobs, better working practices and the potential for further investment – all central to our aim of driving forward a high-growth, high-wage, low-welfare economy.” The move closely follows Quorn Foods’ elimination of 297 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic from its supply chain and the pledge to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025. With scientists predicting a climate change point-of-no-return as early as 2035, flexitarian and meat-free diets have an important role to play. The green-house gas emissions from a bag of Quorn Mince are 90% lower than beef mince.
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4. MHI Vestas investment could create 1,100 new jobs

With the arrival of a new blade mould at the company’s Isle of Wight factory, offshore wind turbine manufacturer MHI Vestas, are set to support and create 1,100 new jobs and millions in economic benefits. The arrival of the mould signals a chief milestone in the company’s manufacturing expansion efforts, which promises to add 1,100 new jobs – direct, indirect, and induced – and £42 million per year in added economic benefit to the Solent region once the second mould is fully operational. The company are now underway to begin production as early as January 2019. MHI Vestas UK Country Manager, Julian Brown, said: “Among all the uncertainty these days, it’s quite a remarkable image: a massive blade mould comes into the UK with hundreds of new employees readying themselves for years of serial production. It’s offshore wind at its finest, actually – large-scale manufacturing, sustainable jobs, considerable economic benefit to local communities, and a green energy source driving the UK toward a carbon-free future.” The company’s announcement comes as the UK kicks off its annual Offshore Wind Week, highlighting the industry’s accomplishments and expected future impact. Notably, the sector is poised to grow exponentially as the UK expects to get a third of its electricity from offshore wind by 2030.
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5. Huge crowds pack WorldSkills UK LIVE

The biggest and best interactive national skills experience of all time – WorldSkills UK LIVE – drew to a close at the NEC, Birmingham on Saturday (November 17th). More than 85,000 people, virtually the capacity of Wembley Stadium, pre-registered for the three-day skills fest – an all-time record. Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Anne Milton MP, who attended the event on Thursday, hailed WorldSkills UK LIVE as ‘critical to the future of this nation’ and praised organisers for breaking down gender diversity barriers. Enormous queues developed on the final morning of the show as young people and their parents took the opportunity of meeting some of the country’s biggest businesses and explore the options of taking technical pathways to the world of work. Dr Neil Bentley, CEO of WorldSkills UK, said: “This has been the biggest and best skills event that the UK has ever seen. Undoubtedly, we have helped change thousands of lives for the better. We have brought together governments, business and education to get the message across that gaining a skill will help young people go further, faster. This week proved to be a major milestone in our mission.”
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Our favourite #GBmfg & #UKmfg tweets of the week

Recommendation roundup

Our picks of the best manufacturing and business related content that caught our attention this week.

1. When is a robot a person? / via @raconteur

Where does the blame lie when artificial intelligence goes wrong? Its creator? Its owner? Or could the AI itself have legal liability? Legislators are trying to resolve the difficult and highly complex question of the legal status of AI as they seek to create workable laws that won’t hinder the benefits that technology can bring.
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2. Ford thinks exoskeletons are ready for prime time in its factories / via @engadget

While videos of giant robots welding vehicles are exciting to watch, humans are an important part of the assembly of vehicles too. However, as you would expect, repetitive motions can lead to fatigue and injury for workers, particularly for those reaching overhead multiple times a day. But now, Ford is rolling out a new wearable technology globally, called EksoVest, to help lessen the physical toll that their job takes on their body, after a successful trial in two US plants. The exoskeleton vest doesn’t have a motor or battery pack to make its wearer stronger. Instead, it’s a mechanical device that offers passive arm support from five to 15 pounds.
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3. Brexit: A guide to where we are / via @BBCNews

Theresa May has agreed a draft Brexit withdrawal agreement and a political declaration about future relations between the UK and the EU. It hasn’t been painless – two cabinet ministers and two junior ministers resigned while some Conservative MPs want to force a leadership contest. What happens now? This article provides a reminder of where we are and what could happen next in a series of charts and analysis.
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And finally, some bonus picks to add to your reading list this weekend:

1. Black Friday: Nine in 10 ‘deals’ cheaper at other times of year / via @Independent

Almost nine in 10 products on offer during Black Friday sales are available cheaper at other times of the year, a study suggests. Consumer group, Which?, tracked the prices of 94 popular products, including TVs, cameras and fitness trackers, that were on offer over Black Friday 2017, from six months before until six months afterwards. It found that 87 per cent of products were cheaper at other times of the year. Although there are many deals to be had, this is perhaps a welcome reminder that in order to bag a bargain, do your research and don’t get carried away by the hype!
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2. Leaning Tower of Pisa ‘now leaning less’ / via @BBCNews

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is known worldwide for its precarious tilt – and the lean is as old as the tower itself, having crept in five years after construction began in 1173. But now, after more than two decades of efforts, the tower’s Surveillance Group, which monitors restoration work, said the landmark is “stable and very slowly reducing its lean”, having been straightened by well over an inch. It’s enough to give a monument an identity crisis.
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Spot something you think we should see? Share with us! Email and we may feature it in an upcoming post.