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As the UK’s manufacturing sector moves ever further away from the typical hard manufacturing of the 20th century, so does the requirements and locations of the spaces it occupies. Manufacturing is no longer just about production; it is a much wider set of activities that create value for the UK and benefits for wider society. Manufacturing includes significant innovation; it creates jobs that are both highly skilled and well paid. It also contributes to the rebalancing of the economy, with its strong role on exports and import substitutions. Its importance in a Brexit Britain could not be more relevant.

The changing spaces

The spaces in which our manufacturers’ operate need now to be capable of rapid adaptation of their physical and intellectual infrastructure to exploit changes in technology as manufacturing becomes faster, more advanced and more susceptible to customer behaviours. Manufacturing in 2050 will almost certainly look different from today and will be virtually unrecognisable from that of 50 years ago. There is no better example of this than the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Factory 2050 in Sheffield as recently promulgated by Theresa May.

The AMRC Factory 2050 is the UK’s first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility, which is capable of rapidly switching production between different high-value components and one-off parts. Part of the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District, which started from humble beginnings in 2001 from a collaboration between Boeing and the University of Sheffield, the AMRC now boasts over 90 industrial partners including: Rolls-Royce; Airbus; BAE Systems; and McLaren Automotive.

This innovative approach to creating a manufacturing space, the concentration of highly skilled workers, and grouping of technologically advanced companies is ostensibly a huge factor in the continued investment into the Innovation District. Supply chains are magnetised towards such innovation; innovation and intellectual property attracts further like-minded organisations; and within short order new environments are created.


Manufacturing spaces of old peppered the banks of the rivers that meandered through our major cities. The reliance on water as a means of transport, power and waste disposal was vital in the 19th and 20th century. These spaces are now more likely to be found split off into apartments or office space. The landscape and geography of our cities now looks very different.

With relocation comes challenge; new areas grow but old areas decay. If your business is looking to relocate, leaving behind a decaying environment will not maximise value for you. With challenge comes opportunity and relocation is an opportunity to cash in on the capital investment of your premises. If you get right what you leave behind, you can maximise opportunity. Our Real Estate and Industrial Occupiers teams can help you find the most appropriate new occupation solution, whilst our Development team can help you with maximising the value of what you leave behind.

Published: 16 May 2017

Focus on Manufacturing - Edition 5

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Andrew J Wallis