SME manufacturing firms are preparing to spend more than £45bn over the next year, 23% more than planned in the first quarter of 2012, according to new research. As technological advances continue to be made across many specialist manufacturing industries, such as aerospace, marine, offshore wind and rail sectors, it is hoped a desire to modernise and upgrade equipment will lead to increased productivity and provide the wider economy with a boost. A survey by the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) also implied of cautious optimism amongst manufacturers about prospects for trading over the next year. More than one in two manufacturers expects sales will grow between now and March, reflecting economic optimism as a whole. Lorraine Holmes, area director for the MAS, said: “Manufacturers have been reporting fluctuating demand and softening in certain sectors so to see the renewed optimism suggests many believe these markets are coming back on stream."