Challenges in machine building

The ramping up of the low wage economies in the machine building sector means that OEMs often feel they are working under the shadow of the threat of cheap imports. In the first of a series of articles, Robert Brooks looks at the ‘must-have’ features that will keep UK machine builders ahead of the pack, and the opportunities to add even greater value.

In the last 20 years, machine building in the UK has changed beyond recognition. Of course some of this is driven by new technology, but much more is about meeting today’s vastly different user requirements whilst also fending off competition from low cost entrants to the market.

Naturally price is a pressure, but end users tend to be more focused on speed, reliability, flexibility and lifetime costs. At the same time, the requirement to differentiate themselves from the competition means that machine builders are building a lot more one-off machines and special purpose machines, ideally without impacting on either development time or cost. These two sets of criteria would appear to be in contradiction but it doesn’t have to be so, as the latest automation technologies give machine builders all the tools they need to develop vastly superior machine designs, more quickly and more cost-effectively.

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