What will rising inflation rates, global shipping disruptions and new digital technologies mean for the future of Norfolk’s manufacturing businesses?

Norfolk is home to many advanced manufacturing companies, covering civil aviation, agriculture, food production, pharmaceuticals and energy supply. Manufacturing is one of the county’s largest industries, employing over 84,500 people and, with a net worth of approximately £5.1 billion (Norfolk and Suffolk Unlimited), is an essential part of life here.

International payments specialists Clear Currency can help local businesses stay ahead of the curve. Below, they reveal what trends will dominate the manufacturing market in 2023.

1. Lasting effects on supply chains may lead to new procurement models

Despite having bounced back from global shipping delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, shortages and disruptions are still being felt globally, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Limited access to rare earth minerals and other natural resources could lead to production issues and an inability for companies to keep up with consumer demand (Strategic Systems Group). With this in mind, it will be important in 2023 for manufacturing businesses to come up with alternate product sourcing options, including working with various vendors, to avoid hold-ups.

This may involve negotiating with overseas suppliers, purchasing machinery from abroad and developing new operational plans to help your company stay afloat. Clear Currency’s dedicated transfer specialists can outline the tools and products available to help clients mitigate exposure to currency risk.

2. Reinvestment in training to combat labour shortages

Job losses and unfilled vacancies have impacted the manufacturing sector since Brexit and Covid-19, and have hindered companies’ abilities to keep up with growing demands for goods. To stop this from halting progress in 2023 it’s likely businesses will need to rethink their recruitment strategies.

Growing apprenticeship options, reinvesting in comprehensive training and changing the public’s perception of manufacturing jobs, may all help to bridge the labour gaps (The Manufacturer).

Eastern Daily Press: Clear Currency can offer Norfolk companies information on how to mitigate currency risk exposure when negotiating with overseas suppliers.Clear Currency can offer Norfolk companies information on how to mitigate currency risk exposure when negotiating with overseas suppliers. (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Homeworking is likely to persist, so placing funding into remote technologies could be a worthwhile venture (Ideas plus business). Investing in a remote workforce allows businesses to recruit in new locations, and perhaps even hire employees from abroad.

When hiring overseas workers, it’s important to pay them on time and in the right currency. A specialist provider like Clear Currency can offer tools to help you manage international payroll, which can save you valuable time and money.

3. Prioritise using new digital technologies to help your company problem solve

Adopting automated processes and using smart technologies can help companies address labour shortages, increase sustainability, boost production and minimise costs.

IoT (Internet of Things) technology remains one of the top trends within the manufacturing industry (Hitachi Solutions) and has enabled companies to streamline production processes and better manage stock levels. Smart farming technologies have helped those working in agriculture adopt greener practices, address animal welfare concerns, lower energy consumption and boost yields.

In an increasingly ethically conscious society, it’s more important than ever for companies to be open about their environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment. Embracing innovative technologies will need to become common business practice to ensure businesses adhere to stricter government regulations and climate change commitments (Flatworld Global Solutions).

Sourcing machinery from overseas may help you achieve these goals. Germany, Italy and China are some of the most popular countries for UK companies to buy equipment from.

Clear Currency can provide information on the FX tools available to mitigate currency risk, such as a forward contract, which lets you lock in a favourable rate now for up to 12 months - invaluable if you're thinking of buying machinery overseas.

4. A return to LEAN manufacturing to reduce waste and boost sustainability

During the pandemic, it became necessary for companies to store more inventory than they usually would, to avoid running out of materials. However, with the market settling, it’s likely businesses will return to ordering only what they need.

This method, referred to as LEAN manufacturing, is used by many organisations to help reduce waste, increase sustainability and boost efficiency. (Flatworld Global Solutions). It also gives businesses the flexibility to adapt and implement new greener technologies, improves customer service, and can lower company overheads (ToughNickel).

Eastern Daily Press: Clear Currency can explain what FX tools are available to help Norfolk manufacturing businesses purchase the smart technology they need to increase their sustainability.Clear Currency can explain what FX tools are available to help Norfolk manufacturing businesses purchase the smart technology they need to increase their sustainability. (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

By signing up for a free account with Clear Currency, you’ll gain access to their secure online platform. This allows you to view live exchange rates and manage all your international transfers in one place, making it simpler for you to stay on top of your overseas business payments.

5. Improving cybersecurity strategies to prevent data breaches

Many businesses have experienced a rise in cybercrime since Covid. As of October 2022, 39 per cent reported that they had experienced an attack in the last year, and of these, 31 per cent estimated an incident occurring every week (AAG IT).

For manufacturing businesses, such scams pose a serious threat, as an attack can cause money loss, operational shutdowns and reputation damage (UK Tech News). Therefore, it has become incredibly important for companies to invest in the latest online security measures. Norfolk businesses operating overseas need to be able to cope if an attack happens, but should also be able to prevent one from taking place, to protect their international network.

If your company runs offices abroad, it's vital to ensure they are well protected from cybercrime. This may require you to research and work with a global cybersecurity company.

6. Shifting gears from reactive to proactive business measures

The last few years have left many companies operating in survival mode to make it through the challenges of Brexit and Covid-19. Therefore, what we’re likely to see more of in 2023, is businesses making more proactive decisions regarding their company’s operations and growth (Engage for Success).

Rising inflation and the falling value of the pound have meant that manufacturing companies will need to explore ways to mitigate risk and build their resilience to volatile market prices (Forbes). SMEs can do this by getting ahead of their finances, planning their annual budget and establishing an effective FX strategy.

Norfolk firms that operate internationally can benefit from understanding their exposure to currency risk, and planning how to mitigate this when sending or receiving overseas payments. Even small fluctuations in the currency market can make a big difference to final costs.

Clear Currency specialises in helping businesses mitigate their exposure to currency risk. They can help you save time and money when making overseas payments. Their experienced currency specialists will guide you each step of the way, so you can manage your international business transactions with confidence. Sign up for an account today.

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To protect your business from currency risk, visit clearcurrency.co.uk.