By Steve Boam
CEO of Develop Consulting.
As we settle into the new year, we turn our thoughts towards what it holds within the sectors we work in.
Last year has been a tough year for many of our clients as markets slow and orders reduce. This is particularly noticeable in the construction and modular sectors.
Supply chains across most sectors continue to be disrupted by world events and economic shifts. There have been success stories in terms of investment in the Automotive sector for new vehicles and EV battery factories and also in healthcare and MedTech companies.
So, what does 2024 look like? The big questions are will there be a general election, will the economy continue to slow or decline back into recession, will the cost of money and financing remain at the current levels and will world events continue to impact businesses in the UK in terms of energy, fuel and commodity pricing due to the cost of raw materials?
All or any of the above have a significant impact on UK manufacturing and the global supply chain.
If we take a look at some of the sectors, Develop Consulting will be supporting into 2024 then there are various challenges and opportunities alike.
Modular and Construction
The sector continues to be in a state of flux with construction costs still rising during last year by almost 10% and therefore companies are holding off starting any new projects until this levels out which is expected in 2024. Add this to the ever growing need of housing, publicly quoted as 300,000 homes a year, the demands on the sector will escalate.
With the enormous shortage of skills and capacity in construction, companies will need to do things differently, taking the same traditional approach simply will not be good enough. Offsite manufacturing can be a solution when it is used in collaboration in build projects, especially where elements of the build are repetitive i.e. housing, schools etc. Unfortunately, several of the larger manufacturers didn’t make it to the end of 2023 as they just moved the wastes and inefficiencies from construction sites to their factories.
We are continuing to support many modular factories and new clients in 2024 to design, invest and create processes to repeatably delivery volume and quality to meet the needs of customer demand.
Going forward we will continue to support the sector by offering thought leadership and expertise at various conferences in collaboration with leading sector associations.
Airports and Support Services
The Airport sector has seen a great 2023 with passenger numbers returning to pre covid numbers and on the whole delivering an acceptable service to the public, certainly better than the previous year. However, not only are the passenger numbers increasing to record levels in 2024 so are the customer expectations. This means improving the utilization of security screening, assisted passenger support, buses, car parks and other key services within airport operations.
In addition to this the sector will see the first significant change in security screening regulations for more than 17 years. The government’s deadline for the new regulations, June 2024, is approaching quickly and will demand totally different equipment and processes which is in turn requires significant changes in infrastructure for virtually all UK airports. The pressure will be immense in the security areas whilst the Airport are trying to meet the regulations and helping the staff to adopt new ways of working.
Airport service providers such as passenger assistance, laundry, catering and cleaning services will also be under pressure from airlines to improve capacity and quality whilst reducing costs.
During 2023 we supported conferences and organised an extremely successful event bringing together representatives from UK Airport Operations. Going forward we will continue to facilitate collaboration within the sector to guide it through the challenges ahead in the coming years.
Develop Consulting will continue to support current and new airports and service providers in 2024 to improve performance, reduce costs and significantly raise levels of customer satisfaction.
We are pleased to have supported thousands of GPs over the last few years to improve capacity, access and quality of care for patients through process redesign, data, demand and capacity balancing and care planning. This has not only had a direct benefit for patients but staff in the NHS also. Our improvement program has now been given a 1+1-year extension to support far more GPs and the majority of the 6500 in the UK.
As waiting times reach an all time high in the NHS we will continue to support ICBs and Acute trusts to consider pathway redesign and the use of technology to reduce admin burden, particularly repetitive tasks to allow professionals more time to care for patients and reduce waits and LOS (length of stay) in hospital beds.
We have supported some of the worlds biggest Rail manufacturers and service operations over the past two decades. We will continue to drive efficiency and improvement into our clients within the rail OEM and component repair and overhaul sectors.
With the announcements at Alstom in late 2023 of risk of factory closures due to the completion of current projects in early 2024 and no visibility of new orders, the sector faces extreme challenges. The knock-on effect to suppliers and service providers is huge and the UK economy. HS2 reductions in volume have also impacted Alstom and the sector.
As passenger numbers increase, but not to expected levels, rail maintenance operators remain busy and as operators keep older fleets running for longer there is always work to support maintenance, upgrades and refurbishment of older fleets.
We think the sector will remain challenged for much of 2024 and beyond.
General (Auto, Aero, Marine, Engineering)
Order books and sales remain strong for many of our low volume luxury and bespoke products. Many challenges exist around new product launch, efficiency and performance. Delivering what the customer wants and needs at the right time, cost and quality is still a challenge for many OEM manufacturers.
We will continue to support many sectors and clients to improve their businesses and operations and welcome new challenges from new clients and sectors.
M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions)
Develop Consulting have supported a number of PE firms through 2023 and will continue to help through 2024 as deals complete and portfolio companies embark of productivity, efficiency and operational performance improvement to increase enterprise value.
Supporting companies to focus on operational performance through processes and people remains a core strength of Develop and our team. We look forward to supporting further in 2024.
Develop Consulting Celebrates Five Years and Go Further
We will be continuing to push our ‘Go Further’ campaigns in 2024 and insights into how we are supporting clients and partners, we will also be celebrating our 5th Anniversary early in the New Year with clients past and present, partners, colleagues and friends. This is a great way to bring people together to share in our celebration and the great projects and achievements of the last 5 years.