Paul Bennett, Managing Director of Fascia Graphics explains the benefits of bringing your manufacturing process back to the UK…

More British companies are bringing production home to the UK. The slowing of China’s economy, the recent wage increase of over 20 per cent in the provinces, and lead times extending to 120 days are all factors contributing to this. This means the benefits of manufacturing in the UK now outweigh those of manufacturing in ‘cheap China’ – which isn’t quite so cheap anymore.

A previously cost effective workforce and access to shipping routes once enticed a mass of British companies to flock to China for large quantities of cheaply made goods. But these companies are now reversing the trend and starting to think about coming home. Even though it is still the fifth largest global manufacturer, China is less competitive now. The recent pledge by the government in Bangkok to double workers’ average incomes this decade and to introduce a national minimum wage of 300 baht, ($10/£6) will have implications on manufacturing costs. Taking all of this into consideration, now is a good time – if some, or all of your supply chain is currently in China or other markets – to move back home, and exclusively manufacture your product in the UK.

Partly as a result of this shift, the picture of manufacturing in the UK is starting to look slightly more optimistic. The government is pumping £140m into high-value manufacturing in the country, and 25 per cent of manufacturers said output rose in the last quarter according to the latest CBI quarterly Industrial Trends Survey (October).

The benefits of making it in Britain

Moving production back to the UK doesn’t have to be a hassle, and even though a new supplier will have to set up the artwork, re-tool and re-proof the product, companies will have tighter controls on day-to-day aspects of business and the manufacture of their product, these include;

  1. Development –

A product that is manufactured in the UK can be more closely controlled and reviewed; a high-quality prototype can be supplied at a quick turnaround, leaving plenty of time to make any necessary changes before going into full production.

  1. Communication –

There are no language barriers when dealing with suppliers in the UK, so any confusion is cut out, and there is less risk of a product arriving not as specified. There’s also no excuse for poor quality, but if there is a problem, it’s possible to call or visit the manufacturer. The fact that you’re in the same time zone also means that sales and technical representatives are on hand to offer advice during UK business hours.

  1. Lead-times –

It can be frustrating when overseas companies push up lead times, which are often three times as long as in the UK. Also, if you have an urgent or last minute order, there’s more possibility of it being fulfilled – as some companies are willing to set up 24 hour production to ensure a deadline is met.

  1. Transit –

The other benefit of sourcing product components in the UK is that they don’t have to be imported, so shipping timescales, delays, and rates don’t slow down the overall process or push prices up. Again, if products are needed urgently, it’s easy to arrange delivery to other parts of the country, and courier costs are much cheaper.

  1. Relationships –

Re-shoring gives a company the opportunity to build a new and lasting relationship, with a supplier that can be trusted to provide a high quality service and product.

  1. Technology –

British manufacturers have some of the most carbon efficient and technically advanced machinery, capable of producing high quality products. Some recent investments have not only benefitted Fascia by allowing us to edge closer to the £4million turnover landmark, but our customers too. We invested in a new digital printer, a Pick and Place machine, and the UK’s first servo-driven press within our industry. These investments have improved our efficiency, supported the environmental improvements we are continually making to the business, and have drastically increased our production capabilities. The new automated machinery has allowed us to cope with an increased throughput and to run with reduced overheads, whilst overall, improving our lean manufacturing – all of which saves our customers money, and ensures that they always receive a superior product to those which are manufactured domestically or overseas.

In conclusion, sourcing from within the UK strengthens our economy, creates job stability, and contributes to building the nation’s growth and prosperity. If more companies bring production back home, they’ll be able to supply a better product to market, at a fraction of the time – and we’ll be able to make Britain the workshop of the world again.