While manufacturing in general has been in the economic doldrums for some time, the UK has some of the most innovative engineering businesses in the world.
Manufacturing companies contribute £150bn a year to national output, they are directly responsible for more than three million jobs, generate two-thirds of the UK's exports and provide three-quarters of the UK's investment in research and development.
Large engineering businesses spend an average of £7,579 per desktop per year on IT, which is below the UK average of £8,455. This is surprising because of the computer intensive nature of the sector, which uses high-powered Cad/Cam workstations to process test data and support the design and production of engineering components. Inventory management, enterprise resource planning and materials optimisation are also a challenge.
However, smaller, technology-intensive mechanical engineering companies spend an average of £4,007 per desktop per year, which is 29% more than the average of £3,132 for SMEs in all industries.
In larger engineering organisations, spending on IT hardware is greater than the UK average - £1,699 compared to £1,611. In smaller engineering businesses, the difference is more marked. Mechanical engineering SMEs spend 34% more on hardware than the average in other industries.
The spending figures suggest that engineering companies tend to use their own IT staff to roll out technology, relying less than other sectors on consultants and outsourcing. Large mechanical engineering businesses spend 29% less on IT services than the UK average, perhaps indicating the difficulty in applying standardised business processes to the industry.
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