Engineering industry reports improving order levels

Scotland’s engineering sector continues to report increased orders and output despite the political uncertainty which has threatened to disrupt the economy for some time.

According to the latest Quarterly Review of the industry published today, companies throughout the country are reporting that business is good and some have even admitted having an exceptional trading year.

Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive, said: “We are heartened by these reports which I have gathered from our District Meetings around the country.  Of course, many businesses are suffering from the continued fall-out from the decrease in oil-related activity on the UKCS and the effect of the weak pound on raw material prices.

“However, in his Autumn Budget the Chancellor’s proposal to change tax policy, allowing new owners of North Sea installations to reclaim corporation tax on decommissioning costs, should attract new investment to the oil and gas industry.”

Particular improvement has been recorded in export orders (42%up, 44%same, 14%down) compared to the previous quarter, and this may be caused by the weakness of the pound against other European currencies.

Employment levels across all sectors and size of company (33%up, 51%same, 16%down) have remained steady, as has the amount of overtime being worked (44%up, 35%same, 21%down).  There is still a problem throughout the industry of skills shortages.  Bryan explained: “The likely loss of some of our skilled immigrant workers due to Sterling’s relative weakness against the Euro is already being felt in some quarters.”

He added: “On a more positive note, we have great hopes for the new apprenticeship initiatives with Foundation Apprenticeships promising to deliver business-ready school leavers and Graduate Level Apprenticeships accelerating the return of desperately needed qualified engineers.”



PRESS RELEASE – AUTUMN BUDGET – Comment from Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive.

Autumn Budget comment from Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive.

“It would appear that most of the benefits from the Chancellor’s Autumn budget will apply only to England, as we in Scotland will have to wait for another month to see how our Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek MacKay MSP, can compete.

“Will he, for example, use the £2billion extra from the UK Government to increase the personal allowance before tax to £11,850 or increase the higher taxation threshold to £46,350?

“It would be a worthwhile gesture if he were to offer the equivalent of £40million to train more maths teachers and be prepared to grant schools the equivalent of £600 for each pupil who takes Higher Maths or begins a core maths course.

“Where we will be affected, though, depending on how it will impact on the engineering manufacturing industry, is the £220million Clean Air Fund for cities throughout the UK.

“SMEs throughout Scotland will benefit from the fact that the VAT threshold will remain at £85,000 and the £2.5billion fund to unlock investment for emerging UK businesses along with the £500million investment in artificial intelligence, 5G and Broadband should benefit our growing industries.  I doubt, however, that our industry will be much affected by the increase in the national living wage from £7.50 to £7.83 an hour.”



Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive, attended the Silver Employer Recognition Scheme Awards Dinner in The Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle on Thursday 2nd November 2017.  Bryan received the Silver Award on behalf of Scottish Engineering.

The Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) encourages employers to support defence and inspire others to do the same.  The Scheme encompasses Bronze, Silver and Gold awards for employer organisations that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community, and align their values with the Armed Forces Covenant.

Bryan commented:

“It was my privilege to accept the Silver Award of the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant on behalf of Scottish Engineering at a ceremony at Edinburgh Castle.  Demonstrating support for our armed forces, particularly our REME members and their reservists, is of great importance to us.  It was also gratifying to see our member company, Scottish Power, similarly recognised.”

Bryan receiving the Silver Award from Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, CVO, CBE, Chief of Defence People (CDP)


Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Awards Dinner. Edinburgh Castle 2 Nov 2017

SMAS Future Manufacturing Conference 2017 – Tue 24 October

SCOTTISH ENGINEERING is pleased to promote the SMAS Future Manufacturing Conference 2017, being held at RBS Conference Centre, Gogarburn, Edinburgh on Tuesday 24th October 2017.

The one-day programme will focus on four key themes:

  • Technology in Manufacturing
  • Data Analytics
  • New Business Models
  • Preparing your workforce for Industry 4.0

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Alan Norbury, CTO, Siemens
  • Dr Ali Bigdeli, Senior Research Fellow, Ashton Business School
  • Charles Joel, IoT Director, Gardner Denver

Tickets are priced at £75.00 per person, with reduced rates for additional delegates from the same company.

For more information and to register, please click on this link:




Scottish Engineering is proud to publicly register our support for the Armed Forces, through signing the Corporate Covenant.

Having welcomed 106 Battalion REME into membership some two years’ ago, the relationship continues to thrive with interaction between the two bodies, proving productive at events such as District Meetings, one of which was hosted at Battalion HQ in East Kilbride.

Lt Col Paul Hughes, Commanding Officer, REME, and Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering, signing the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.

Lt Col Paul Hughes and Bryan Buchan.

Armed Forces Covenant 2017






The engineering industry in Scotland has reported a further quarter of improvement in orders, output and staffing levels according to the latest survey by Scottish Engineering.

Total order intake across all sizes and sectors (51%up, 28%same, 21%down) is better than both the last two quarters, which follows seven quarters when the returns were negative.

This has resulted in staffing increases (35%up, 52%same, 13%down) upon which Bryan Buchan, CEO of Scottish Engineering commented: “Particularly strong growth has come through in staffing levels and despite this, levels of overtime working continue to be relatively high.  Not surprisingly, against this background optimism remains high.”

Optimism across the industry (35%up, 46% same, 19%down) is similar to the first quarter of 2017, which shows a considerable increase compared to the previous two years.

Similarly, export orders are higher in the first two quarters of 2017 than they were in the preceding 13 quarters, caused in no small part, according to Mr Buchan, by the continuing weakness of the pound against foreign currencies.

“Initially, when the exchange rate against sterling fell, the engineering sector in Scotland took some time to catch up with the rest of the UK in terms of export orders.  That may have been down to the fact that most of our orders go to the rest of the UK, and it took somewhat longer to hit the export trail,”  he explained.

Apart from a few isolated areas like oil-related business, the industry is looking forward with a positive approach to the next three months.

On the subject of gender equality within the engineering industry, Mr Buchan was also enthusiastic.  “For the second consecutive year, our Scottish Engineering / Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow Award presented to a young graduate was won by a young lady.  This year, it was won by Meryl Devlin of Aggreko in Dumbarton, who oversaw delivery of a complex project on heavy fuel oil generator design.”




The Scottish Engineering Annual Awards Dinner 2017 was hailed as another great success, with over 3600 guests attending.

Our Awards Dinner, held in the Marriott Hotel, Glasgow, celebrate the continuing excellence in manufacturing engineering throughout Scotland.  Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering, hosted the event where the Principal Guest Speaker was John Baxter, who is Chairman of the Advance Nuclear Research Centre at the University of Strathclyde, which was opened in November 2015.  John has had a distinguished and varied career, initially training as a Royal Navy Submarine Engineer Officer, including post-graduate nuclear studies at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.  John’s subsequent career was with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and covered all aspects of the nuclear programme.  This included running the Dounreay and Windscale nuclear sites and the UK Atomic Weapons Plants.  Most recently he sat on the Defence Nuclear Safety Committee.  After 30 years in the nuclear industry, his private sector experience included his appointment as Group Engineering Director at Powergen, and was also Group Head of Engineering at BP.  John is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  He was made a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours for services to engineering, education and the energy sector.

The Winner of this year’s Scottish Engineering Main Award was: Allied Vehicles based in the north of Glasgow.

This family-owned business has grown from a start-up of 18 people in 1993 to becoming a modern engineering company, employing nearly 600 people.  They are active contributors to the local economy and have built a modern sports stadium in a deprived area at a cost of £1.8m.  They have helped save two sporting institutions – Glasgow Tigers Speedway and Ashfield Football Club from bankruptcy.

Trading performance has been stellar over the last 5 years, with turnover growing some 81 per cent.  If you have ever been in a 7-seater taxi, you have personal experience of their products.

Left to right: Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering; John Baxter, Principal Speaker and Chairman of the ANRC; Peter Facenna, Managing Director, Allied Vehicles.

Peter Facenna, Managing Director of Allied Vehicles, accepting his Award.

Six President’s Awards for Outstanding Manufacturing Achievement were awarded to:

Brand-Rex Ltd:

Left to right: Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering; John Baxter, Principal Speaker and Chairman of the ANRC; Ian Wilkie, Managing Director, Brand-Rex Ltd; John Howie, President of Scottish Engineering.

EDF Energy:

Left to right: Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering; John Baxter, Principal Speaker and Chairman of the ANRC; Joe McGuigan, Architect Engineering Branch Manager, EDF Energy; John Howie, President of Scottish Engineering.

Guala Closures UK Limited:

Left to right: Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive, Scottish Engineering; John Baxter, Principal Speaker and Chairman of the ANRC; Ken Moran, General Manager, Guala Closures UK Limited; John Howie, President of Scottish Engineering.


Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering; John Baxter, Principal Speaker and Chairman of the ANRC; George Dillon and John Black from Plexus; John Howie, President of Scottish Engineering.

Smith Anderson Group:

Left to right: Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering; John Baxter, Principal Speaker and Chairman of the ANRC; Michael Longstaffe, Chief Executive of Smith Anderson Group; John Howie, President of Scottish Engineering.

Walker Precision Engineering Ltd:

Left to right: Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering; John Baxter, Principal Speaker and Chairman of the ANRC; Mark Walker, Managing Director of Walker Precision Engineering Ltd; John Howie, President of Scottish Engineering.

Scottish Engineering / Incorporation of Hammermen Award 2017:

Left to right: Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering; John Baxter, Principal Speaker and Chairman of the ANRC; Meryl Devlin, Project Manager at Aggreko UK Manufacturing; John McKnight, Deacon of the Incorporation of Hammermen of Glasgow.


Engineering industry gets on with business.

The first Quarterly Review of the engineering industry for 2017 shows a further improvement in most areas.  There is healthy growth in export orders, in particular where a net 30% of businesses are reporting above normal activity.

The QR survey also records a 27% positive return for total orders.

Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering, attributes the dramatic gains in export orders in part to the relative weakness of Sterling.

Similar success is being reported by machine shops: +38%, and mechanical equipment: +10% in their UK orders, and by metal manufacturing: +33% and transport: +50% in their export orders.

Output volume throughout the engineering sector shows a net +14%, and optimism at a net +17% is also showing improvement on the previous improvement reported in the final quarter of 2016.

Looking forward, forecasts for the next three months in UK orders remain positive, with metal manufacturing +11%, and machine shops +13%, maintaining a strong trading position.  Output volume in the next quarter is also predicted to be +38% for transport and +10% for metal manufacturing.

Commenting on the sector generally, Bryan said: “After the initial shock of last year’s Brexit vote, engineering companies in Scotland have adopted the usual pragmatic approach and buckled down to getting on with business.

“Major areas of concern for all Scottish operations include the revisions in business rates, the relatively unfavourable mid-range personal taxation regiment and the long-awaited set ails of the disbursement of the Apprenticeship Levy takings.”

The Guest Writer in this edition of the Review is Will Dowson, the Bank of England’s Agent for Scotland, who sees a positive future for the engineering industry in Scotland.  He comments: “There is some uncertainty about the post-Brexit landscape, particularly for those companies that rely heavily on international trade, and some investment plans have been affected, which could drag on broth over the coming years.

“It is clear that the UK’s new relationship with the EU – and the reforms that it brings about, both at UK levels and here in Scotland – will determine our long-term prosperity.”



Scottish Engineering Annual Awards Dinner 2017.

This year’s Annual Awards Dinner will be held on Thursday 18th May at the Marriott Hotel, Argyle Street, Glasgow.

Our Principal Speaker will be John Baxter, CBE, FRSE, FREng, who is currently Chairman of the ANRC (Advance Nuclear Research Centre) and Visiting Professor of the University of Strathclyde.  Mr Baxter was formerly Head of Engineering at BP.  He trained as a Royal Navy Submarine Engineer Office, including postgraduate nuclear studies at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and also served as a nuclear submariner.  John’s subsequent career with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority covered all aspects of the nuclear programme.  Most recently, he served on the Defence Nuclear Strategy Committee.

The after dinner entertainer will be Willie Allan, who lives in Dunfermline and is well-known on the after dinner circuit.

The booking form can be found here: 2017 Annual Dinner info

If you require further information, please contact:



Made In Scotland Awards 2017.

The Made In Scotland Awards champions all aspects of transformational discoveries and developments made in Scotland.  From innovation in business services to innovative companies that have found success, both domestically and internationally.  Past winners have ranged from companies making products that work in harsh environments, through innovative domestic gadgets designed in Scotland, to a leading craft brewer.

More information can be found via the following link:

Nomination forms can be completed via:

Nominations will close on Friday 3rd March, with the judging taking place on Tuesday 14th March.

The Awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday 19th April at the Glasgow Science Centre.

If you require further information, please contact Julie Ritchie, Events Assistant, Trinity Mirror plc.  Tel: 0141 309 3052 or email:

Bryan Buchan, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering, has been invited to join the judging panel.

Published on behalf of Scottish Business Insider.