Beck & Pollitzer and Frog Bikes are among a raft of companies that have found or are seeking UK suppliers this year with the help of the Reshoring UK platform. The Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association is the latest business group to join the growing list of 32 trade associations and research organisations on the Reshoring network, which now has representation in every devolved nation.
Covid-19, Brexit and other external shocks are pushing more companies to look for local suppliers for quality and shorter lead times by using Reshoring UK to achieve this. Lower costs are a primary driver for sourcing parts in Asia, but more companies are finding that technical capability, quality, environmental issues and proximity are far more important than price alone, when such parts may suffer from global blockages, quality defects, or delivery delays.
Reshoring UK is an interactive match-making tool that allows companies to search for a UK-based company by manufacturing category or a key word search– such as toolmaking, injection moulding or composites – by region, industry sector or association. Companies can then post enquiries to the selected companies requesting further information. It is designed for OEMs, tier ones and SMEs to locate manufacturing capacity which may be conveniently sited ‘down the road’.
Assisted by Reshoring UK, specialist moulder and toolmaker BEC Group has helped several UK companies that have struggled with suppliers in Asia and Eastern Europe who cannot deliver to the criteria that these products demand; high quality, delivery, and responsiveness. Often a company needs quick and expert consultation with the supplier about a technical issue, where it helps if the supplier is local.
Critical components are particularly suitable for the switch from China or Eastern Europe back to the UK, says Clare Elvy, Marketing Manager at BEC Group.
“Customers who enjoy stable supply chains have had to reframe their priorities, and are now looking for faster communication, faster problem solving, tighter control and increased agility. Risk management is moving up the priority list. “Locally-sourced” is rapidly rising in importance with a spotlight on environmental impacts. There is higher demand for better traceability of products, shorter supply chains with less environmental impact,” Clare adds.
But it is not just critical components that can be reshored. She adds that the flexibility and agility of supply of British companies mean they can often compete with Asia on simple products too. “The UK can compete on cost when it comes to being able to flex-up supply, as companies face demand fluctuations, rarely having minimum order quantities, no big shipping costs, quick turnaround times etc,” says Clare.
BEC Group helped UK company Guru Systems to produce moulded parts. Guru had experienced long lead times, communication and material selection issues with an offshore manufacturer for their first-generation smart meter, Hub I.
Reshoring supply is gaining popularity among many manufacturers, such as machinery installation specialist Beck & Pollitzer. “As a passionate UK businessman, I am keen to see my company play the fullest role possible,” says Andrew Hodgson CEO at Beck & Pollitzer. “We have played a major part in offshoring for more than 20 years. We are ready to support moves to bring much of this back to UK.”
Frog Bikes, a manufacturer of children’s bicycles, has also benefited. “Reshoring UK has helped Frog Bikes connect with UK-based suppliers for some of our key componentry, as alternatives to Asian suppliers,” says Shelley Lawson, Strategy Director. “We are keen to investigate these options both to build resilience in our supply chain, and to reduce the environmental footprint associated with bike production.”
In November the Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association joined Reshoring UK. Kevin Ross, president of SPRA and managing director of Impact Solutions, says “We have seen a reversal of globalisation where manufacturing was focused in lower cost countries over a number of years. This reshoring has been intensifying as a result of Brexit and Covid as the limitation of global supply chains have been exposed but also the capability, ingenuity, diversity and cost effectiveness of the UK supply chain has been proven.”
The Reshoring UK platform works by linking the members and customers of 32 trade associations using an intelligent search – it is not creating another network but leveraging the existing strengths of these well-established business groups.
“Matching the needs of businesses that are reshoring, or even to shine a light on the ‘lost skills’ the engineering marketplace can provide, demonstrates where the Reshoring website excels,” says GTMA CEO Julia Moore. “It can make the compiling of an end-to-end supply chain much more efficient, minimising the effort required to find businesses that are capable and competent enough to provide the support required.”
BEC Group says that UK purchasing teams have become entrenched in a culture of driving efficiencies and cost.
“This is understandable considering the pressures they have been put under. There has been no reason for change. Brexit presented an opportunity to discover new UK suppliers but Covid has forced many purchasing teams into uncharted territory. The challenge is how to engage purchasing teams to locate suitable UK suppliers. Reshoring UK helps to bridge that gap,” says Clare Elvy.
Reshoring UK also plans to provide practical, long term procurement solutions to large companies. “Provided that OEMs and Tier Ones make a conscious decision to look at choosing a more UK-centric supply base, we can actually help them to source the best solutions, solve their manufacturing challenges and add value so they have a longer-term solution,” concludes Julia Moore.