The global site of the UK's leading magazine for automation, motion engineering and power transmission
16 June, 2024

Twitter link

One step forwards; how many steps back?

01 April, 2022

Just as the UK manufacturing sector appeared to be heading for recovery following the Covid pandemic, the Ukrainian conflict has intervened, with effects that can only be speculated about at this stage. Nikesh Mistry*, Gambica’s sector head for automation, explains how his organisation is planning to help its members.

February was a very positive month for manufacturing. Or so it seemed at the start. According to the Purchasing Managers’ Index, manufacturing output rose to a three-month high in February, which was an improvement on January, which also recorded an expansion. These positives were welcome news after what had been a difficult few years in terms of supply chain resilience and trying to maintain domestic demand amid Covid restrictions and trade limitations. 

One view widely held among Gambica members is that, during the pandemic, there was little problem on the demand side of things, but it was the supply chain that really suffered due to raw materials shortages, global pressures and trade restrictions. Based on the PMI figures, it began to look as if the disruption caused by the pandemic had peaked, and that the manufacturing sector had now begun to recover.

However, the conflict in Ukraine means we may now see another drag on firms across the UK and Europe. Because Russia is the world’s largest exporter of natural gas, as well as a leading supplier of many other commodities, as sanctions and export restrictions start to mount, their effects on UK manufacturers will become apparent.

The industry managed to show great resilience throughout the pandemic, but it is now imperative that the UK government acts to offer more support to manufacturers to prevent this previous progress from being squandered. On 2 March, BEIS announced that £60m of support for manufacturing investments by companies at the leading edge of innovation – in areas such as cell and gene therapies, diagnostic technologies and medical devices.

This support is focused particularly on the life sciences manufacturing sector. We hope that it can be extended to other industries.

At the moment, with all of the tensions in international relations, it is vital that the UK’s domestic manufacturing continues to grow and strengthen. Another discussion point among Gambica manufacturers is how implementing digital technologies during the pandemic has meant that they now have many forms of resilience to external shocks.

According to the analyst Future Market Insights: “The IoT devices and next-generation manufacturing industry has experienced a tremendous increase in industrial automation in recent years. As a result, IoT gateway manufacturers are more concerned with generating high volume and quality products due to increased market rivalry and end-user demand.”

This means that, even with pressures on supply chains, new technologies can help to satisfy more demand than was previously possible. There are various reasons for this, ranging from more streamlined processes, remote access abilities, to reduced breakdowns as a result of the wider use of predictive maintenance.

Last month, Gambica held a Webinar with our members to discuss how they feel they might have been affected sanctions in Russia, pressures on supply chains and rising energy prices. It was apparent that many members expect to start feeling the impacts of these pressures later this year. During the pandemic, many manufacturers had sufficient stock levels to keep them producing for a while, but as these stocks started to diminish, problems began to arise. This scenario may repeat itself, with one of the biggest fears being the rise in energy costs.

Gambica plans to continue organising forums for its members, where they can discuss how they have been affected by the global situation and can talk to other businesses similar to their own to learn how they may have tackled the obstacles.


To get involved with Webinars such as these please contact a Gambica member of staff or email We are planning to have speakers from a variety of institutions to support these discussions in the future and to examine how the sanctions could affect our members. 


* Gambica is the trade association for the automation, control, instrumentation and laboratory technology sectors in the UK. 

For more information, please contact Nikesh Mistry on 020 7642 8094 or via

  • To view a digital copy of the latest issue of Drives & Controls, click here.

    To visit the digital library of past issues, click here

    To subscribe to the magazine, click here



"Do you think that robots create or destroy jobs?"



Most Read Articles