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Project Manager based in Manchester UK

Countdown to zero……………..#EV

The U.K Governments decision to ban the sale of new petrol & diesel cars by 2030 presents some real challenges for the UK Automotive industry. A development lifecycle of 5-7 years is not unusual for a brand new model & when we are looking at a whole different powertrain & chassis with the consequent implications for production assembly then we are talking major developments.

JLR spent over $1 Billion developing its 2014 Engine Plant for Diesel & Petrol Engines, this gives some indication of the huge resource requirements for Battery powered vehicles.

There is a lot of debate as to whether Electric Vehicles actually produce less CO2 than their ICE (Internal Combustion Engine)  counterparts but this report from ICCT organisation clearly debunks this.

There is some parallel with the elimination of leaded petrol, responsible for the death of over 5000 adults per year & countless examples of brain damage to children; it took over 12 years from unleaded petrol being available to a European Directive in 2000 before it was eventually banned.

Interestingly the Government announcement makes no mention of exporting ICE vehicles; only sales in the U.K. As we currently export 80% of all UK manufactured cars (admittedly 55% to the Eu) there is a little bit of wriggle room for Manufacturers to continue making ICE cars in lower volumes beyond 2030. There are many part of the World where Electric Vehicles will not prevail for many years to come but in urban conurbations in the ‘developed’ world their ascendancy is without doubt.

This will result in huge engineering & change management opportunities in the ever evolving automotive sector.

There will be much debate over the coming decade about the pro’s & cons of electric cars but there is no doubt about it, after a century of production the Internal Combustion Engine is heading for the breakers yard.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

Where we’re headed in #2021

Wow!! – 2020 – you couldn’t make it up; so where are we headed in 2021?

  • Working from home is now a cultural norm; whatever happens to Coronavirus this is one trend which will not be reversed. Workers who are savvy enough & technologically enabled to work remotely will continue to seek out opportunities which offer this option making its reversal impossible. Declining revenue from City Real Estate will instigate a decline in Inner City Property prices & a mass migration to the suburbs. The London property bubble is well and truly ‘popped’
  • eCommerce market share will continue to increase; if the High Street is not dead it’s on its last legs & is wobbling badly. This will drive eCommerce logistics where same day delivery becomes the norm.
  • ReCommerce sustainability will drive a mass market of re-use & hiring of products for the short term rather than as a one off purchase.This will also impact the automotive market.
  • Cloud storage of data will continue & there will be an even greater emphasis on the customer.
  • In Automotive, the current trends of increasing electrification & automation will drive a decrease in car ownership in the Western  world of around 25%. As new Generation-Z drivers familiar with the cultural trends of shared ownership & reduced carbon footprint migrate away from individual ownership where cars currently spend 95% of their time sat in a parking lot. China will continue to grow driving local manufacturing capacity.
  • Brexit will give UK Auto companies the excuse they are looking for to slash car lines, reduce factory real estate & reduce headcount.

Chris Robinson BSc

www.amberhillassociates.com

 

IR35 Precipice approaches #IR35, #contractors, #tax

Recent Government legislation means that from April 2021 Medium to Large private sector companies will assume responsibility for determining how the contractors they engage with will be taxed.

The definition of a ‘Medium to Large company’ is one which meets 2 or more of the following criteria:-

  • Annual Turnover > £ 10.5 Million
  • Balance Sheet >  £ 5.1 Million
  • More than 50 employees

So lets’ take a step back – what is IR35 ?

HMRC applies certain criteria to determine whether a contractor is within or without IR35

Within IR35 means the contractor pays tax & National Insurance contributions as if they are directly employed by the client – This is deemed to be the case if the client decides working hours, start & finish times, promises work in return for payment, depends on that individual doing the work etc etc

Outside IR35 means the contractor pays their own tax & National Insurance normally by the use of a Limited Company & is deemed to be outside IR35 because payment is on a project basis, no work is guaranteed by the client, work can be done by a ‘substitute’, hours & start & finish times are not fixed etc etc

The main change is this:-

Currently IR35 status is determined by the Contractors Limited Company – from April 2021 this will be the legal responsibility of the client.

The full consequences are yet to become apparent but some organizations have already decided to apply a sweeping classification of all contractors as being within IR35.

Following on from Covid-19 &  Brexix we have to challenge if this is the best approach to meet the needs of a dynamic & flexible economy.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhillassociates.com

 

 

 

Automakers on limp mode………#automotive, #manufacturing, #uk, #Covid-19

As the automotive industry limps back to work post Covid-19 the world is a very different place & will stay that way for a long time. The future success of these companies is very dependent on having an adequate electric vehicle proposition as we head towards the next hurdle which is coming up fast – #Brexit & further ahead the abolition of fossil fuels cars in 2035 or even sooner. So what are the implications for manufacturers based in the U.K.

Aston Martin.

Recently announced redundancy for 25% of its workforce & the replacement of CEO Andy Palmer – the future of Aston depends on the success of its DBX SUV model which is built in South Wales. No electric models on the horizon.

Benley.

VW owned Bentley has now returned to work at Crewe but is struggling to maintain capacity & is rumoured to be running at @ 50% following the introduction of social distancing measures – consequently Bentley has announced redundancy plans affecting 25% of the workforce. Bentley doesn’t have a fully electric car but intends to develop one by 2025.

Jaguar Land Rover

JLR has returned to work at Solihull & more recently at Halewood. They have announced today that Castle Bromwich will not re-open until 10th August.  JLR has one electric vehicle at he moment, the award winning I-Pace but this is built at the Magna plan in Austria. Plans are in place to extend the range & to build these cars at Castle Bromwich. JLR has not announced any post covid redundancies having gone through an extensive restructuring exercise in 2018/19 but no one would be too surprised if further cutbacks were announced given the company has lost 3 months production & was recently granted a 500 million loan from 3 Chinese banks.

Nissan

Nissan recently returned to work at it’s Sunderland Plant following an announcement about a post Covid worldwide restructuring which will see the closure of its Barcelona Plant & commitment to Sunderland as a manufacturing centre for Quashqai & Juke SUV’s & could also produce their Renault counterparts the Kadjar & Capture.

This was further quantified by a statement a week later that this all depends on their being frictionless trade with Brussels. Given recent developments failure to achieve this by the EEC & the UK government would be tantamount to a suicide pact.

The other bonus for Nissan is that Sunderland produces 15k of the incredibly successful electric Leafs per year.

Toyota.

There have been no major announcements from Toyota but they have returned to work in Derbyshire producing a range of hybrid vehicles. Toyota’s strategy is to reduce overall carbon emissions by producing hybrid vehicles rather than full electric vehicles due to the current constraints around battery technology.

Mini

Have returned to work at Oxford having remodelled processes around social distancing & are producing some Electric Minis as part of the range.

Lotus 

— Geely group has invested in Lotus heavily & the company has a tight well targeted product range including the fantastic new all electric hypercar the Evija. The company has also benefited from picking up a number of talented & experienced engineers from JLR.

Whatever the next few years brings we will be looking at a tighter, leaner UK Automotive industry with some losers & some big winners depending on their ability to meet the challenges of post Covid, Brexit & Electrification.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

 

 

 

Bring it all home……#reshoring

A recent survey in The Engineer reported that 59% of correspondents think that bringing manufacturing elements of the Supply Chain back to the UK (#reshoring) should be a priority following the Covid19 Pandemic outbreak.

There are some really good points made in the comments section & following Britain’s exit from the EEC there is no reason why this should not be Government policy, even stimulated by official Government subsidies – but should it ?

There is no denying that ever since the late 1970’s Britains manufacturing base has shrunk from around 32% to 10% of GDP – but does this matter ?

To anyone who has been involved in Engineering & Manufacturing over the last 30 years & who has seen millions of good quality skilled & relatively secure jobs migrate to China & Asia to be replaced by insecure temporary low paying ‘gig economy’ roles the answer  has to be ‘yes’

However we also need to remember this shocking decline was also due to a certain amount of complacency in British Manufacturing as a result of poor Management, sloppy working practices & shoddy quality.

Rebalancing the Economy by encouraging high quality Manufacturing supported by competent Management & Customer focussed Quality Management sounds like a positive move indeed.

Chris Robinson

www.amberhill.biz

Lessons Learned – #Coronavirus

What a couple of weeks! – the world has tilted on its axis & society has changed forever plunging millions into unemployment & causing thousands of deaths worldwide. In most parts of the world bustling cities have ground to a halt as people self isolate in their homes.

So what have we learned ?

  1. It’s not all about the ‘economy stupid’ – peoples lives are actually more important than GDP growth & the ‘bottom line’ but  let’s see what happens when the medical emergency is over & the debt has to be repaid. Unlike the 2008 Financial crash we must not allow the poor to carry the overwhelming burden. If we have to learn anything from this after 10 years of austerity we cannot allow the mentally ill, the sick, the impoverished & the disabled to bear the brunt of fiscal cuts – the wealthy will have to pay their share in the form of a higher tax burden – anything less would be criminally negligent & social breakdown the result.
  2. Humans are naturally altruistic – half a million people in the UK have came out of retirement to support the beleaguered NHS & social care sector & millions have rallied round to support their neighbours & friends. As a social species we depend on one another to survive & thrive.
  3. The ‘Magic Money Tree’ has been well & truly discovered – here in the UK hundreds of millions have been found to subsidise 80% of wages & support the economy in the face of an unprecedented decline in economic activity.
  4. Working from home IS possible – for many millions of us. This unprecedented event has demonstrated the capability of communications technology like no other so when it is allover the reluctance to allow home working has been swept away.
  5. Some of us cannot work from home – people making things in factories & workshops have to be physically present to enable this – despite all the theory & academic studies  about A.I & robot technology we are a long long way from this in reality.
  6. Restrictions on travel have clearly demonstrated that 90% of journey’s are completely unnecessary. Sorry but International air travel for your sales conference or  Davos event is no longer socially acceptable.We like having less pollution – take a look at the sky.
  7. The sooner we return to normal the better. Really – maybe we don’t want to return to Normal.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

6 million dollar man………………………..#computerbrain #innovation #technology

A tetraplegic man has demonstrated direct mind control of a supporting exoskeleton as a direct result of a fascinating project by biomedical research centre Clinatec & the University of Grenoble.

The technology was designed by lead researcher Prof Alim-Lois Benabid who was previously involved in research to develop deep brain stimulation techniques to treat the rigidity & tremors caused by Parkinsons disease. Bernabid & colleagues published their research in the Lancet Neurology.

It involved the direct implant of implants onto the surface of the brain in the area which controls movement. The brain activity was then read & transmitted to a computer which turned the brainwaves into instructions for controlling the exoskeleton.

As technology continues to accelerate, hardware shrinks & software becomes more sophisticated we head towards a future where physical disability will be a thing of the past.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

Time for a #Change ?….

BrexitRegardless of one’s political views it is easy to see the current mire of Brexit is a classic example of how not to manage change.
By failing at every level the process has become stuck in the mud regardless of whether you were a remainer or an ardent Brexiteer; confusion reigns supreme & it is difficult to see a way out of the mess without seriously ‘cheesing off’ large portions of the population.
According to John Kotter, a Professor at Harvard Business School there are 8
key steps to change:-
  1. Create Urgency: There needs to be a compelling case for change, and it’s up to the project leader to explain that reason clearly so people understand and are inspired to change.
  2. Form a Powerful Coalition: One person cannot shoulder the change themselves. It requires a team, so it’s important to collect the key people to help enable that change.
  3. Create a Vision for the Change: Make it short, clear, relevant and easy to understand by the people who are going to be affected by the change.
  4. Communicate the Vision: Communicate the change, but don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk of the change and have it reflected throughout the project.
  5. Remove Obstacles: As you work towards implementing change, you will hit both physical and emotional obstacles, so you and the team need to help people overcome these blocks by listening to their concerns and seeking their feedback.
  6. Create Short-Term Wins: By demonstrating the benefits of the change early in the process you’re more likely to get buy-in and expedite the process overall.
  7. Build on the Change: Don’t think you’re done too early in the process. Instead, repeat the above steps for awhile and let the change settle in.
  8. Anchor the Change: Finally, make sure the change sticks by embedding it in the organizational procedures, operating models and people’s day-to-day work
So applying these key steps to Brexit:-
1) Create Urgency – why did Brexit have to be triggered so soon after the Referendum & without a clear definition of what the destination was. Given the current debate about what Brexit actually means this was never spelt out clearly or defined to a fine enough detail.
2) Form a Powerful coalition – This clearly did not happen. Theresa May is undoubtedly a Politician of fierce determination but lacks the ability to reach out & form alliances even in her own party. She has been thwarted at every turn because she never had the character to reach out to others across the political divide & form a consensus on what Brexit was & how to achieve it.
3) Create a vision for the change – it is still a matter of conjecture whether Brexit involves a customs union, agreed access to the common market, etc etc – ask 10 different people what Brexit is & you get 11 different answers.
4) Communicate the Vision – ‘Nuff said.
5) Remove Obstacles – it seems as if the longer the process staggers on the more obstacles are thrown in its way. This is a direct result of not having a clearly defined end goal & strategy.
6) Create short term wins – difficult to see any evidence of this.
7) Build on Change – yet to see this achieved.
8) Anchor the change  – Ditto.
It is incredulous to believe that a major western Democratic Government has embarked on a Change of this magnitude without adopting the very basis tenets of Change Management.
chris@amberhill.biz

Talking Japanese #brexit #honda

Today’s announcement from car maker Honda that it is to close its Swindon plant by 2022 has been greeted with shock & dismay, not least from the people that work there. The company has suggested the decision has nothing to do with Brexit & cites ‘global challenges’ in the form of vehicle electrification & autonomous vehicles. What wasn’t mentioned was the recent agreement between the EEU & Japan to abolish tariffs between the two trading blocks negating the very existence of the Swindon plant. The Japanese car makers were attracted to the UK in the Thatcher era by a combination of Government grants & the ability to ship into Europe tariff free.

Any talk of betrayal is absolute nonsense. Japanese car makers like Honda, Nissan & Toyota have contributed billions to the UK economy over the last decades not to mention the taxes paid to the U.K government by companies & workers.

Most people do not understand the complexity of automotive supply chains and how thousands of components for each car cross borders many  times before they are used at their final destination. Any tariffs at the border will increase product costs & introduce unnecessary delays.

What we have to ask ourselves is this – Does Brexit make it easier or more difficult for companies to invest in the UK ?

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

Riding the gravy train #autonomousvehicles #HS2

I’ve got a meeting in the Capital in 2 hours to discuss an important project so I call up an AV by thinking inside the box (which resides in a corner of my brain)

I get an alert inside my brain box & head for the door. I don’t carry any hardware as I’m permanently connected to the cloud.

The AV glides up & an orifice appears so I hop in & relax in the sumptuous surroundings, I click a switch in  my brain box & the vehicle becomes transparent – I want to enjoy the journey today & take a break from screens.

As we travel towards the motorway we pass the old JLR plant, after they moved all production to Slovakia following #brexit the site is now used as a storage facility for expired batteries.

Pretty soon I’m joining the M6 Hyperway, a 12 lane superhighway augmented for AV’s. My AV joins the swarm & accelerates to a steady 130mph surrounded by other AV’s centimetres apart. Statistics prove that travelling in an AV is much safer than air travel.

Shortly we pass the Birmingham Curzon St station – now used as an Art Gallery after the #HS2 project was abandoned when Government subsidies were withdrawn following the election of the Greens.

We’re approaching the Capital now & I’m reflecting on what a great city Manchester is & how its developed since the terminal decline of London after #brexit & the ‘Great Exit’ of the Finance Industry.

As my AV glides through the suburbs & I prepare to disembark I’m laughing at the notion that once upon a time some people thought we would still be using trains that ran on rails!

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.co.uk