Thursday, January 8, 2009

[ Technical Textiles - UK manufacturing is alive and well.]

Textile industries generate wealth in a £1 billion industry supplying most industrial and medical sectors.


Your choice of textiles as an example of unsustainable manufacturing (“Survival of the Fittest”, Jan 6) was true 30 years ago but not today. Over the past 20 years traditional textile companies have reinvented themselves and new ones sprung up. The technical textiles industry evolved during the post-Thatcher era when unfashionable manufacturing was left to fend for itself. We now generate wealth in a £1 billion industry supplying most industrial and medical sectors;

Making profit in manufacturing has rarely been easy. Boulton and Watt, Josiah Wedgwood’s great friends, nearly lost everything in the process of trying to commercialise the steam engine. But Matthew Boulton’s vertically integrated manufactory remains the template for the future of innovative and lean manufacturing.

The late-19th century concept of cost reduction through mass production is no longer sustainable in the UK (and is increasingly difficult in China). Modern successful First World manufacturing is a different kind of business altogether. McLaren cars and Airbus aircraft are faster, lighter and more fuel-efficient than their forebears because much of the metal is now replaced by textile composite technology.

The fittest will survive by sharpening their minds, not their pencils.

Tim woodbridge.


Technical Textiles Executive, Web Dynamics Ltd, Blackrod, Lancs.


With the motor manufacturing industry in general being in trouble, in the US, Europe and the Far East, it is interesting to note that here in Malvern, the UK’s only surviving British-owned car manufacturer, Morgan, launched its centenary celebrations in grand style last Friday. Charles Morgan’s firm appears to be going forward confidently.

Brian Stowe

Great Melvern


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