MAKE IT IN BRITAIN

We have looked in the past at the reversal in the trend of moving manufacturing overseas to supposed cheaper destinations, predominantly China.  As the UK economy has continued to grow and companies are once again investing in new products, it is worth revisiting this topic.

CHANGING TRENDS

Everything from toys, high-end textiles and consumer goods are again being made in bulk here as higher costs, coupled with the risk of having suppliers based five weeks away by sea, have tipped the balance in favour of local markets.

Britain is looking more competitive than it has done for several years and businesses say there is a golden opportunity to build the country’s manufacturing base.

COMPANIES BRINGING MANUFACTURING BACK

There have been a number of high profile companies returning manufacturing to the UK.

Trunki, the children’s ride-on suitcase maker, carried out all production in China when the company started in 2006,  but now all its products are manufactured here.  Another name from the past, Airfix, now manufactures a range of plastic model kits in the UK – something that would in the past have been made in China.

WHY THE UK?

The biggest growth area though is new projects.  Once upon a time companies would actively offshore production.  In the last couple of years, we have had a number of companies come to us and insist they want everything manufactured here, including tooling in many cases, so that they can put ‘Made in UK’ on their products.  This is particularly true for smaller companies and start-ups.

What is driving this trend?  The following are seen as the main reasons for choosing the UK:

  • Increasing costs.  The Chinese government has pledged to double workers’ average incomes this decade as it seeks to close the country’s widening wealth gap.
  • Uncertainty over exchange rates
  • Higher transport costs
  • Shorter and more responsive lead times.  Speed to market is increasingly important, as is responsiveness to customer requirements.
  • Quality.  Products not being made to specifications or using counterfeit materials in some cases.
  • Producing copies of your products
  • Language barriers

Among smaller companies, quality has certainly been the overriding consideration.  Loss of reputation through a product not meeting expectations could result in company failure.  Although the quality of offshore manufactured products may well be improving as skills increase, reliability issues remain.

Furthermore, with the growth in China slowing some companies there are going out of business.  If you have production overseas you need to consider ‘What would happen if my supplier went out of business?’  It is not only the disruption to supply but also the repatriation of any assets, potentially expensive mould tools in the case of injection moulding, having to deal with an administrator and Chinese law could be fraught with problems.

Let us help whether it is a new project or reshoring existing tooling.

How Rutland Plastics can help with mould tool transfer