The BTMA’s recent general meeting at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry saw turned parts manufacturers come together to discuss the current state of business, share experience and network.
Nearly 50 members and technical members took part in the meeting, before having the opportunity to see for themselves the latest advances in additive manufacturing, machining, robotics and automation in the MTC’s advanced manufacturing development facility.
The overall mood was extremely positive. Almost without exception, members reported that business was booming despite the ongoing lack of resolution to Brexit.
Some overseas customers had concerns about delays at borders, but this just meant that deliveries needed to be brought forward, and worries about materials supply were unfounded as stockholders at the meeting said this would not be an issue as they were holding record levels of stock.
Companies had been investing in new machine tools and many reported that 2018 had been a record year – with 2019 starting off looking even better. Many were working at full capacity, and while pre-Brexit stockpiling might have accounted for some of the work, it certainly didn’t seem to have been a major factor. Companies reported picking up new business from French and German companies who didn’t see Brexit as an issue.
There was also evidence of re-shoring, with companies who had previously been sourcing in Europe, looking to source in the UK. The favourable exchange rate has been an important factor in this – not only because it means UK subcontractors are effectively 20% cheaper than they had been two years ago, but it has also boosted business for their OEM customers.
Looking across the industry sectors, the overall consensus was that automotive was down, but aerospace and oil and gas were strong.
What was clear at the meeting was the benefits BTMA members found in having the chance to talk to their peers about shared problems, solutions and experiences.
As one member explained, “It is the chance to get a reality check as to how the business is going and to share ideas and experiences with people who have the same issues – areas that people outside the turned parts industry would not have in common with you.” Another added: “It is like a family, people trade information and help each other. It’s what we can do for each other.”
BTMA President Nick Groom underlined this message. He said: “Being a member of the BTMA is about sharing experiences, networking and helping each other. The BTMA is different from other business groups where you may be sitting next to an accountant or an architect. At a BTMA meeting you are sitting with people who are in your industry and understand what you are talking about.
“You talk to people and realise that they have the same problems that you have, and you find common ground with them to help to solve those problems.”
With the BTMA now part of the international turned parts association, the SID, this takes it to another level says Nick. “We are now part of an even bigger global group, giving the BTMA membership more scope for learning and seeing the world of engineering. You can sit around the table with people from around the world and share their ideas too.”