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What does 2017 hold in store for manufacturing?

By Chris Greenough

It’s the start of another year for Shropshire business, and I look ahead with renewed optimism and enthusiasm for the months to come. 2016 was a momentous year for political decisions in the UK, and with the triggering of article 50 on the horizon, this year could be another one of political uncertainty.

But, this should not detract from the fact that manufacturing in the UK, and indeed Shropshire has never been better. The devalued pound is helping us be competitive on a world stage, and our stance to stand alone outside Europe is a strong commitment to the fact we are quality, world class producers.

There are great opportunities to build on the special relationship with America, and they need a strong ally now, with the new President elect looking to confirm and sign trade deals quickly to secure and bolster his role.

Infrastructure and connectivity are key to manufacturing success, and there is a lot of work needed to maintain and indeed improve the Shropshire region. We need roundabouts that work, and let traffic flow. We also need to have broadband that allows business to make the most of the opportunities that are available.

Industry 4.0 is coming, and we cannot be left behind in any way with the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies. This is indeed the next industrial revolution, It includes cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things and cloud computing. Industry 4.0 creates what has been called a "smart factory".

So, let’s get on with the year ahead, keep making and keep pushing to make the Shropshire economy grow.

Chris Greenough is president of Made In The Midlands and director of Salop Design in Shrewsbury

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