EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.
This week we look at resolutions, targets and objectives for 2021. This is based on the set of proposed resolutions we posted on LinkedIn. You can view these here
Question one: Resolution one: British manufacturers should build shorter and more resilient supply chains. Are they doing it and if not then when/how do they start?
Response: I think in the New Year it's good to review supply chains, a new year offers new challenges and new opportunities! Supply chain reduction eg. cutting out unnecessary transport also helps contribute to more sustainable ways of working!
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics and Coatings: Firstly Happy New Year y'all! It's tricky but we try to prioritise British suppliers IF we can but it's not always an option... The longer the chain, the more issues that can arise.
Response: Are they are doing it? But surely, shouldn't supply-chain-reviews simply be a constant part of the business process for any business, especially manufacturers? The place to start? Recruit a supply chain expert. When? As you start the business ... or now!
Response: Suppliers have to be competitive: cheaper, better quality, better service, more responsive, more resilient. Internal solution: innovate to make one's own processes better. External approach: reach out and ask if local suppliers can deliver what it takes to win your business.
Response from Made in Britain member Alltrade Printers: We have always looked at sourcing locally. We are always looking at the #MadeInBritain directory to try and get locally sourced supplies.
Response from Made in Britain member Linian: We always prioritise buying from UK suppliers and supporting local companies. This really helped us last year as we were able to maintain our high stock levels to continue to supply our products (with next day delivery) to key infrastructure projects.
Response from Made in Britain member RA Tech: We proudly make our #hotun dry trap tundish, not only #ukmfg but 90% within 20m of where we live in #Derby It was a cornerstone of our invention that we found quality manufacturing on our doorstep.
Response: The issue always comes back to cost. Larger corporations look at the bottom line and tend to have quite a short memory. UK suppliers, especially SMEs, maybe need to look at collaborating with similar companies to provide a competitive alternative to imported products, a cooperative.
Response: Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) in your supply chain can help to mitigate supply chain problems. It can also expose opportunities. Have you considered using it for your sales and distribution channels?
Made in Britain: Do many businesses actually do this do you know? Or, in fact, know how to do it?
Response: Most definitely, need to let all British businesses know where to find local UK businesses for sourcing their requirements.
Response from Made in Britain member Manthorpe: Manufacturers are beginning to address the international supply chain risks highlighted by Covid-19 and are looking to diversify supply chains to spread the risk, using local suppliers is one option.
Made in Britain: Do you think that manufacturers are thinking beyond COVID-19 now so they are prepared for other supply issues - e.g. tariffs, war, future pandemics?
Response: The purpose of an FMEA is to identify possible failures so they can be mitigated, it also exposes opportunities. One observation in sourcing locally, it will reduce carbon footprint in manufacture complying with business goals and gov direction.
Response: You beat me to it - I was about to say that local supply chains aren't just a good idea to help reduce risks of future issues and failures. It can also be a good thing to do on its own merits - such as for environmental reasons.
Response: There are so many opportunities that can be identified for a business by looking at the supply chain from raw material to the customer. It just requires time to stop and think about it
Response: I have to agree with Manthorpe where possible we are sourcing locally however it is about spreading the load during Covid/Brexit times and utilising any and all supply chain partners to offer continuity.
Made in Britain: The term "where possible" is interesting. What are the barriers?
Response: As a disty this moment in time the barriers are getting stuff in from Europe (cable from IT, DE and FR, connectors from IT and DE, glands from TR) finding we are being hit with additional "admin charges" and delays (both from Covid and Brexit).
Made in Britain: Will you look to source these within Britain going forwards?
Response: Its difficult as the items are not manufactured in the UK. I'm guessing the barriers to entry are too high.
Response: We place importance on ensuring we optimise effective distribution chains whilst always adapting to the customer; the way in which they are demanding their products is key
Resolution 2: British manufacturers should embrace sustainability and reduce their impact on the environment. Are they doing it and if not when/how do they start?
Response: This is a deep and difficult subject for many. I agree that we should minimise our impact on the environment. However, therein lies moral and business dilemmas. We make things to sell. How do we minimise the impact without destroying the business?
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics: We try to embrace sustainability and reduce our impact on the environment - which probably sounds ironic coming from a plastics company, but the hard coatings that we apply enhance the performance of the substrates and increases their longevity, ultimately meaning less wastage.
Response from Made in Britain member Manthorpe: Customers are definitely more interested in seeing businesses act sustainably and responsibly and that is a key driver to get more businesses to adopt more ethical business practices.
Response: With the gov setting out sustainability targets, a lot more businesses have been incorporating green processes and reducing their impacts, but there is still more to do! If some haven't already implemented greener ways the New Year is the best time to start!
Response from Made in Britain member Ritherdon: For manufacturers it helps to think in terms of lean management where the aim is to reduce waste. This has helped us in our mindset and thus contributes to sustainability.
Response from Made in Britain member Enfield Tubes: We’re proud to manufacture our heat transfer products in a UK factory that holds environmental management certificate ISO 14001.
Response: It absolutely should be embraced; all business decisions should question the impact on the environment and sustainability before actioning.
Response: I couldn't agree more. It should be a factor in all decisions and plans that are pulled together. Both the direct and the indirect impacts.
Response: Excellent Q! Too many businesses are finding too many reasons as to why they can only embrace sustainability 'in part'. All of us understand that protecting the environment and slowing/reversing climate change will make 'stuff' more expensive. The events of the past year have fast-forwarded everyone's expectations by at least five years. It's no longer a choice. Getting on board this train is the only option for business. During his last mths as Governor BofE Mark Carney said.
Response: Information is far more forthcoming in recent years. There are a lot of manufacturers looking at their carbon footprint which is great
Made in Britain: What about the argument of a level playing field? The competitors overseas don't address their sustainability or ethics etc but British manufacturers do? Some may suggest that has an impact on price?
Response: There are always those who will cut corners. Why do some buy ‘luxury’ and why do some buy ‘economy’? Do we lead or do we follow? Who levels the playing field? How level is it?
Response: Another issue that returns to the question of cost. Have customers accepted they are likely to pay a premium for products and companies that are made and operated this way. The UK is trying to compete with companies operating in countries where this is heavily subsidised centrally.
Response: It should be embraced as not only do a number of environmental polices improve the world around us they also reduce costs
Made in Britain: Do you think that there is a perception by some business owners/managers that looking at the green/sustainable credentials is going to cost more rather than save money longer term?
Response: Yes, most definitely businesses think anything to do with environment costs more. In print all our paper is now #FSC from sustainable forest sources, so there are very few or no alternatives.
Response from made in Britain member ESF: We are a street furniture supplier and have been active in using recycled materials. There is still a reluctance to do so as often the prices are more than cheap imported virgin material.
Made in Britain: Will customers pay more for products made from recycled materials?
Response: If they are educated to why then they will but generally they want cheapest prices. Even tenders are mostly aimed at lowest prices.
Made in Britain: Are tenders/RFPs starting to ask for the sustainability metrics/processes behind the product?
Response: Not in this country they aren’t. In USA and Australia this is a big metric but in UK we are seeing at least 80% is lowest price based
Response: This is one of our main goals for this year! Whether it's just small things or large changes, we all need to do our part to protect the environment
Made in Britain: Made in Britain is going to be rolling out some help for members relating to sustainability over the coming months
Resolution 3: British manufacturers should make it easier for customers to identify products that are Made in Britain. Are they doing it and, if not, what is stopping them?
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics: We feel that they should and becoming a member of your organisation would be a great way for them to start for a multitude of reasons. Having said that there have been some unscrupulous examples of customers being misled.
Response: I certainly think anything made in Britain should be shouted about. We have a legacy of manufacturing world class, innovative products. Certainly, when things calm down I will chase the guv up (again) to open his cheque book for membership of #madeinbritain
Response: The current issue with identifying goods as made in Britain is that there is a global misconception that Brexit will make those goods more expensive. We supply to theme park market and have heard from others they have been excluded from pricing for that reason.
Response: This must be for each manufacturer to decide. If the company exports, does it impact those sales? Is different packaging needed for domestic/export clients? I don't think this is a 'blanket question with a catch-all answer'. Having read other replies; is clarification needed: The 'Made in Britain' logo is not intended as a 'mark of product quality', there's no 'quality' assessment or benchmarks for membership? Don't be polite if I am wrong I'd deserve it! It's more a mark of pride and confidence? And perhaps, celebration and bragging rights for the purchaser.
Response: The ‘Made in Britain’ message is very important for the home market, providing customers with reassurance that supply won’t be affected by import issues but this isn’t enough on its own, companies need to offer world-beating products and services by investing in tech and staff.
Response from Made in Britain member Manthorpe: We pride ourselves on our British manufacturing heritage - we have designed, developed & manufactured our products in the UK for >30 years. By joining ‘Made in Britain’ we are able to adopt the mark which is an assurance of quality, support and performance for our customers.
Response: It's easy to miss a lot of the time IME. My mums shop everything is Made in Britain but amongst the sea of beds and all the signs and manufacturers logos and advertising etc the Made in Britain logo is not the first thing you see, or even notice at all.
Response: That's true. It can be difficult trying to fit all the product info, logos, icons, badges, certification info etc.. on to any one product/document and still look good design-wise.
Response: We actively talk about our factory and how goods (cabinets, feeder pillars, meter boxes) are made locally in Darwen, Lancashire. #madeinbritainhour By we, I mean all our sales and admin team!
Resolution 4: British manufacturers should use the learning from 2020 to build stronger foundations for the future. Will they or is it likely they will just return to “this is the way we’ve always done it”?
Response: The time period has helped more to identify the benefits of digital as another tool to reach customers and buyers. There will be a return to old channels when permitted, for those who have adapted, digital will add a further tool to the mix.
Response: Hear it lots: what 'should' business have learnt from 2020? The world, consumers and life has permanently changed; so business must change too: do differently. 'Doing as always' is a mistake. But saying "you should have learnt" suggests error not different?
Response from Made in Britain member Alltrade Printers: Most definitely, need to learn more from 2020 than ever, as we hope that we don’t have another year as the one just gone. Learn and change what can be changed.
Response from Made in Britain member ESF: So many businesses are still struggling and change often costs money so I can see a lot of business going back to what they know rather than using this opportunity to make real lasting changes. That’s if they are still trading and can go back as sadly many are no longer with us
Response from Made in Britain member Ritherdon: Couldn't agree more - lasting change is hard and even more in the current conditions.
Response from Made in Britain member Enfield Tubes: It has certainly made us more resilient, even better at acting fast and managing change. We’ll retain these traits out of necessity. Grateful to our team
Response: 2020 made us make changes that needed to be made and bring forward investment. It has all been positive in terms of maintaining employee safety as well improving working conditions and workflows.
Response: Agreed! 2020 was a learning curve for everyone and a great way to review and evaluate how we did and do things as a business! It's definitely been one of the positives to come out of last year for sure!
Response: Our production team were very happy with lots of shiny new kit that enabled them to work better, produce a more consistent result and keep up with the increased demand.
Response: The terrible pandemic has had the effect of accelerating the inevitable change in how companies operate and employees work. We are facing these changes without the necessary training or tech. We shouldn’t return to the old practices or ever say ‘we’ve always done it this way’.
Response from Made in Britain member Ritherdon: I think the lesson of 2020 is resilience, and manufacturing has a lot of that. Hopefully we will have learned to embrace digital even more #madeinbritainhour
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