With Brexit looming large on the horizon, UK manufacturers will need to collaborate like never before, in order to navigate the challenges and maximise the opportunities. Tony Hague, CEO of PP Control & Automation, suggests the best course of action may be to focus attention a bit closer to home…
Manufacturers could be forgiven for thinking they are currently operating in the eye of a perfect storm, most of which has been caused by external factors out of their control.
Covid-19 has thrust the world into global trade turmoil and many companies have had to pivot or adjust their factories to remain operational and, importantly, safe for their employees. This has underlined the great innovation and agility we have at our disposal and, just as we start getting used to the ‘new normal’, we have the impending spectre of a Brexit ‘no deal’ on the horizon.
None of us want to see that eventual outcome as all it will do is create additional financial and paperwork burdens from new tariffs and a new dose of uncertainty.
However, manufacturers tend to see the best in every situation and many bosses believe we are at a crossroads.
Tony Hague, CEO of PP Control & Automation (PP C&A), is one of those: “We can either continue to moan about our misfortune, criticise the Government and run scared of the new norm or we can unite, collaborate and invest in the opportunities that will present themselves.
“The aim should be to create an agile and competitive supply chain model that supports an aggressive reshoring strategy, which, in turn, provides productivity and GDP growth. This will rebalance trade and ensure that our sons, daughters and generations to come have a robust economy that funds and fuels lifestyle and prosperity.”
He continued: “As a sector, we can do a lot of this ourselves and we’ve already started this process by launching #ukmfgunite, an online directory where UK manufacturers can come together to place/win work, share ideas and go after new business. We’ve already got 322 active members and this is growing by the day.
“Whilst we’ll always look to shape our own destiny, it would be good to get a coherent industrial strategy in place that supports this through tailored advice, support and grants to encourage the adoption of automation and new technologies.”
PP Control & Automation is a leading provider of strategic manufacturing outsourcing solutions to more than 25 of the world’s largest machinery builders.
Without knowing it, the West Midlands-based firm touches all of our lives, whether that is through the supply of fresh milk, keeping our mobile phone dry, bagging your packet of crisps, supporting remote eyecare or helping your favourite F1 team perform in Monaco.
It is already seeing a shift in focus from major manufacturers, who are exploring ways in which they can mitigate supply chain risk or disruption by reshoring parts of production, production that previously had been completed in low cost countries.
Tony continued: “We are in advanced discussions with three potential customers who want a UK manufacturing base and the plan is that we will provide that for them. This was primarily driven by the need to ensure lead times continue to be met after Brexit, but, as we’ve moved forward with conversations, we have identified cost savings and ‘design’ improvements we can offer too.
“I believe UK manufacturing will see a lot of these discussions in the next few weeks. There’s also no reason why we also shouldn’t go after opportunities outside of the EU, with North America already an established market for us thanks to our ability to provide UL508a compliance – a quality standard required for industrial control panels in that territory.”
PP C&A, which recently won two major titles at the Made in the Midland and Business Desk Awards, provides access to controls and automation production and contract manufacturing.
Over £1m has been spent over the last year on new Artos cable preparation technology and the creation of an Electronic Static Discharge (ESD) facility to support electronics and sensitive assembly.
This gives the company a unique capability to deliver outsourcing services to high-profile clients spanning a wide range of industrial sectors.
For further information, please visit www.ppcanda.com or follow @ppcanda on twitter. More details on #ukmfgunite can be found at www.ukmfgunite.co.uk