Survey will shed light on how Swindon’s small manufacturers have coped with Covid

April 24, 2021

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Swindon’s small and medium-sized manufacturers and their efforts to overcome it will be revealed when the results of the largest survey of its kind are published next month.

The city’s manufacturers are being urged to take part in the research, which will also gauge their confidence levels and look at trends in the sector’s performance. 

The influential Manufacturing Barometer, which is organised by SWMAS (the South West Manufacturing Advisory Service) and the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), closely monitors the activity of small and medium-sized manufacturers around the region every quarter.

Used to inform future government policy and support, as well as tracking confidence and performance it looks at issues affecting the manufacturing sector such as Brexit.

This time the survey, exclusively for businesses with fewer than 250 employees, aims to understand how the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated new working practices and whether these have unearthed potential operational benefits.

The survey will also look at remote working in manufacturing to see if this has increased productivity, lowered overheads and/or created a better work/life balance for employees.

SWMAS managing director Nick Golding said: “Although Covid-19 has presented a number of challenges, we are interested in finding out if manufacturers have adopted any positive changes as a result.

“This quarter’s Manufacturing Barometer will provide valuable insight into the new processes businesses have implemented over the past year and if they could lead to permanent changes to traditional working practices.”

While manufacturers will always require some level of on-site production, could virtual meetings replace face-to-face discussions to save time and travel?

And are businesses planning more investment in digital manufacturing?

“Responses to this quarter’s Barometer will help us understand the plans of SME businesses across the sector and enable us to identify the support they require,” he added.

Although a number of manufacturers are still feeling the negative impact of Covid-19, last quarter’s Barometer report showed that 31% of national respondents had increased sales over the previous six months, with 44% predicting further growth, and nearly a third planning to take on staff.

These findings indicate that, despite ongoing challenges, some SME businesses across the sector are beginning to feel more optimistic.

MGP managing director Martin Coats added: “It’s vital that we are aware of how current conditions are continuing to affect SME manufacturers so we can inform government of the support the sector will continue to require as it looks to recover.

“The Manufacturing Barometer will highlight the recent experiences of businesses across the sector and also reveal their intentions around future investment and job creation.

“We invite companies to share their vision for the future, how recent external factors have influenced operational plans and what assistance businesses need to address challenges and make the most of new opportunities.”



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