Earlier this week it was encouraging to see excellence acknowledged and rewarded at The Manufacturer MX Awards (TMMX).  The biggest annual celebration in our industry calendar, the annual programme delivered by The Manufacturer and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers attracts more than 1000 attendees for what is always a great night!

However, gongs, gastronomy and giggles with guest speaker Rory Bremner aside, I regard TMMX as an important annual milestone.  The quantity and quality of the award submissions are, for me, a litmus test of how the industry is fairing in an ongoing uncertain economy.

It’s impossible to predict what the impact of Brexit will be on British manufacturing and engineering in the longer term, although some short term benefits have recently been reported as a result of a weak Pound. Commentators from both Barclays and Lloyd’s commercial banking teams have commended the resilience and agility of the UK manufacturers that are exploiting opportunities to grow their global business operations on the back of Sterling’s depreciation.

IMechE’s recently published paper Engineering a future outside the EU: securing the best outcome for the UK is also an informed and interesting read, highlighting education, skills and innovation as core themes.

Whatever economic or geographic barriers may arise, I believe that if we increase investment in the future of engineering and continue to create world-class solutions then we will maintain – indeed enhance – the UK’s position on the world stage.

Initiatives like TMMX play an important role in this. By giving airtime to individuals’ and companies’ achievements, we are giving them the opportunity to confidently promote themselves to anyone they wish to do business with, anywhere in the world.  The judging process is rigorous, and rightly so: it is designed to provide valuable business improvement advice and feedback from an expert panel of judges.  Being shortlisted should be regarded as a major achievement. So, I applaud the accomplishments of major players such as McLaren Automotive, Siemens, Coty, Caterpillar and JCB who made this grade.

But what’s even more encouraging to me is seeing the wealth of new blood coming into the industry. Emma Wilding, James Doughty, Katarzyna Liduk, Andrew Williams, Justin Noble, Martin Carrick and Sarah Watkinson-Yull’s work was noticed in the Young Manufacturer of the Year category; and six more stars of the future were shortlisted for Apprentice of the Year. It’s exciting to contemplate what this next generation will achieve for themselves, for their companies and for British engineering as a whole.

In the meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all organisations represented at this year’s TMMX awards and wish them continued success in the year ahead.

I look forward to seeing how the industry is fairing twelve months from now.

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