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UK manufacturers turn to digital technologies to escape recruitment and supply chain woes

28 November 2022

A new report has revealed that more than half of UK manufacturers (55 percent) have been significantly impacted by labour shortages in the last year.

The 2022 Manufacturing Agility Assessment, which was launched on day one of Smart Factory Expo in Liverpool, painted a worrying picture of labour shortages and supply chain disruption, with 69 percent citing issues with sourcing material and components.

Conducted by tech specialist HSO and industry experts Hennik Research, the survey also revealed that nearly four-fifths of companies had accelerated investment in products, people, premises and processes to mitigate world events – a 17 percent rise on the previous year.

This was reinforced by 76 percent admitting they had diversified activities to overcome global shocks and just over two-thirds of the total 100 respondents (67 percent) stockpiling inventory during the past 12 months.

“2021 was a time for recovery, but other factors including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, a global microprocessor shortage and an increasingly challenging recruitment landscape have hindered progress for many companies,” explained Grace Gilling, Managing Director of Hennik Research.

“The need to remain agile and the ability to adapt and react to changing situations is critical if firms want to not only survive but thrive. In fact, it is a key component in facing the obstacles associated with all the aforementioned factors, with digital transformation set to play a hugely important role in all of this.”

She continued: “That’s why it’s so encouraging to see nearly four-fifths of manufacturers increasing investment to mitigate economic shocks.”

James Devonshire, International Reporter for Hennik Research and author of the report, added his support: “One of the most refreshing aspects of digital transformation projects – particularly for smaller manufacturing organisations – is that you don’t have to ‘go big’ to be agile.

“Being agile is about always looking for the next aspect to optimise and improve. For example, a step-by-step approach, with easier-to-budget stages, can reap dividends.”

Matt Birtwistle, Manufacturing Industry Director at HSO, said the report reflects many of the conversations they are having with clients. 

“Manufacturers have a desire to streamline processes and boost their agility through digital transformation. However, most don’t know where to begin.

“The bottom line is that streamlining working practices through digital transformation doesn’t necessarily require a large investment and years of effort; as we’ve proved time and time again with our customers.”

To download the full Manufacturing Agility Assessment report, please email

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