Lost equipment costs UK manufacturing 350 million hours

UK manufacturing employees lose 2.5 hours a week on average locating tools and components required for their roles, with 3-4 hours lost in a quarter of all cases, according to new research.

Across the UK’s 2.7 million-strong manufacturing workforce, this equates to 6.75 million hours in lost productivity per week – 351 million hours each year.

Of the 250 senior manufacturing industry professionals surveyed by Pathfindr, 60% said that vital tools were not available when required, causing delays to production. The same proportion also said that important assets were often misplaced during global travel.

Halting Process

Ben Sturgess, chief technology officer at Pathfindr, said: “While losing assets – including tools or materials – may sound a mundane issue, it has a profound effect on manufacturing organisations who rely on timeliness and efficiency to achieve that holy grail of increased productivity. 

“We see lost hours across organisations of all sizes, and frequently the larger or more complex a process, the greater the scope to misplace items. Addressing this issue should be one of the major priorities for manufacturers in looking to close the productivity gap.”

With only 12% of all companies adopting technology solutions such as real time asset tracking, many highlighted inefficiencies in their operational processes that they were currently unable to resolve. 58% of those surveyed said that velocity is not maintained due to lack of operational visibility, and almost two thirds (64%) said that key equipment is serviced routinely rather than based on need. 

Providing the reasons for process inefficiencies, manufacturers largely cited lack of data (43%), including real-time data (39%), over their operational performance. 

And despite overall confidence in their digital transformation efforts, adoption of key manufacturing technologies is low. Smart technologies such as workflow integration, asset tracking and predictive maintenance have been implemented by fewer than one in five organisations.

Barriers over cost (36% of respondents), and concerns over explaining any process changes to clients (27%), were the primary reason that implementation of digital solutions to address inefficiencies hadn’t yet taken place.

Ben Sturgess added: “There is a major role for technology to play in helping organisations gain a far clearer view of what is happening in the manufacturing process. Real-time data can aid decision making both in the moment, and also more holistically when looking at overall process efficiency. 

“The normal barriers to adoption exist, but the signs are encouraging that readiness for smart technologies is peaking, and we may see very rapid adoption within the next two years.”


[1] Office for National Statistics

For further information, download our new report, The State of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing 2022.

The State of Digital Transformation in Manufacturing 2022

We surveyed 250 manufacturing leaders to find out where they are in their digital transformation journeys – and where they plan to be in the next few years.

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