A national programme to reset and recharge UK economy could help firms like Paktronic Engineering

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on July 19th 2020, 2:00pm

Following prime minister Boris Johnson’s ‘project speed’ plan to rebuild the UK economy post-Covid-19, businesswoman Margot James, executive chair of WMG at the University of Warwick and former minister for Digital and the Creative Industries has called for a national programme that combines the scale needed to reset, rebuild and recharge the economy.

James believes that the £5 billion infrastructure investment will help begin work on “shovel ready” projects and kickstart the economic recovery but warned that it should come as a first step in a much more comprehensive recovery plan.

Writing for The Engineer, James said: “We need a programme that combines the scale needed to reset, rebuild and recharge our pandemic ravaged economy with a clear focus on creating a greener, more connected economy that offers opportunity to people and businesses right across the country.

“The building blocks of such a broad-based recovery are clear. We need a comprehensive skills programme to preserve jobs and offer young people opportunity, alongside innovation support and consumer incentives to ‘green’ our economy and rebuild local supply chains. It is encouraging that both Number Ten and the Treasury are alive to these issues.”

James added that for such recovery programmes to be effective, they had to help support regional growth to “level up” national wealth, which could be key for the Midlands and the North.

James highlighted the fact that 46 per cent of public investment in research and development currently goes to London and the regions containing the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

James continued: “It’s essential that the planned increase in public R&D investment to £22 billion a year focuses on applied research in the Midlands and the North to close this gap and ‘crowd in’ needed increases in business innovation.”

It is firms like Paktronic Engineering, based in Grantham, Lincolnshire, that may benefit from such a move.

As a firm, Paktronic Engineering specialises in the design and manufacture of custom-built control and distribution panels for a variety of sectors, especially the water industry. Originally established in 1965 by three electronic engineers that were employed in the laboratory of the Production Engineering Research Association [PERA] in Leicestershire, the company is now renowned in its industry and has supplied panels for several prestigious projects, including the Adriatic LNG Terminal just off the coast of Italy.

Given the nature of its industry, the company must always seek to level up as technology advances.

Writing in The Parliamentary Review, managing director John Wright explained: “When the first programmable logic controllers [PLCs] were introduced, we recognised their potential and were one of the first companies to train our engineers to use them appropriately and keep them at the forefront of our development.

“As technology progresses and becomes more sophisticated, we try to continually develop. Service users are not aware of the technology and installation behind such simple things as turning on a tap or flushing a toilet. The treatment and monitoring of drinking water are of paramount importance as we have to ensure constant quality and instant availability.”

The sort of comprehensive skills programme to preserve jobs and offer more regional innovation support which James is calling for, could well prove helpful in Paktronic Engineering’s endeavours to innovate. Whether such calls are heeded by the government, only time will tell.

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
July 19th 2020, 2:00pm

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