Making Scotland's future - a recovery plan for manufacturing: June 2021 - final

Final version of "Making Scotland's future - a recovery plan for manufacturing" following the 10-week consultation of a draft plan published in Dec 2020. This details a revised set of actions, established by industry, public sector, trade union and academia, to be taken forward by the end of 2021.

3 Adaptation and transformation

Transformative solutions that enable manufacturing to become more resilient, productive, digitally enabled, sustainable and competitive will help companies not only recover to their pre-COVID-19 state but, in the longer term, to thrive in a post-COVID-19, post-Brexit, net zero economy, and put the sector on the path to being truly world-class.

The biggest opportunities lie in the adoption of digital and data-led solutions (sometimes referred to as 'Industry 4.0') that speed up, simplify and automate processes and in low carbon practices that are embedded across product lifecycles and can save costs by enabling resource and energy efficiencies. Innovative business models have been proven to result in new sources of revenue.

Scottish manufacturing has a strong mix of large, including some global companies, and SMEs. However, SMEs account for a significant part of the mix – 97% of companies have fewer than 100 employees – so transformative solutions must be applicable to this community and need to be achievable if they are to be adopted on a large scale.


  • Roll out a digital adoption campaign to communicate the benefits of digital transformation and offer real-life examples of companies that have successfully adapted processes. Case studies and evidence from existing digital adoption/development loans and grants should be used to help businesses see the potential benefits of integration.
  • Accelerate the rate of decarbonisation of Scottish Manufacturing to establish sustainable products and to contribute to meeting our policy targets.
  • Any Scottish manufacturing company looking for public sector assistance for digital transformation should be aware of the need to be resilient to the growing cyber threat. As a minimum, this awareness should be demonstrated by the completion of the IASME Cyber Essentials self-assessment no later than 31 March 2022. This is aligned with the Scottish Government's Strategic Framework for a Cyber Resilient Scotland.
  • Align support mechanisms such as the Digital Development Loan, that enable companies to pilot and then implement capital modernisation solutions such as automation and robotics.
  • Build on expertise gained through existing Scottish clusters, such as the manufacture of PPE, and develop new clusters. The focus should be on building and onshoring new supply chains and encouraging clusters to undertake collaborative environmental and digital transformations.

John Reid, CEO, National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

"The manufacturing sector in Scotland has rarely, if ever, faced such a profound degree of uncertainty and disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit and the challenge of transforming to face the climate emergency have created an extreme environment. Like all points of adversity or crisis this one comes with significant threats but at the same time huge opportunities.

"This is a critical moment for manufacturing in Scotland. We all – government, agencies, academia, innovation centres and companies – need to be bold, decisive and innovative if we are to develop the resilience to deal with these threats and maximise the potential of the opportunities. The way we used to do things won’t be good enough or fast enough.

"This recovery plan lays out a series of clear, focused, ambitious actions and goals. They offer an unprecedented level of coordinated thinking and support for manufacturers. Making them happen will deliver a step change transformation that will not only get us through the crisis but will build a bigger, stronger and more sustainable manufacturing sector into the future.

"It represents ‘Team Scotland’ at its best by showcasing a determination to be innovative, a capability to be agile and the leadership to make things happen."

Case Study

The world's first 100% electric fire engine – made in Scotland

A Scottish manufacturer has produced the world's first battery-powered electric fire engine.

Launched in October 2020, the new fire engine has been developed by Emergency One, the UK's leading manufacturer of fire, rescue and emergency vehicles, and uses battery power for both its engine and water hose pump.

Established in 1989, Emergency One employs around 210 staff with the majority based at its factory in Cumnock, Ayrshire.

There are currently no other electric fire engines available anywhere in the world, with this new vehicle a direct result of significant innovation work by Emergency One.

Scottish Enterprise's innovation teams worked closely with the company to develop the project and awarded a £500,000 R&D grant in 2019 as a contribution towards the company's £1.7m R&D investment in the new vehicle development.

This new zero carbon vehicle demonstrates the innovation and market agility that Scottish manufacturers are renowned for globally.

Emergency One has brought a 'first in class' product to market during a global pandemic, capitalising on the growing appetite for lower-carbon public services as countries around the world seek a green recovery from COVID-19.



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