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 the positive side of 2020.
Question one: What has been the most unexpected achievement of 2020 for your company? What has been the biggest positive of 2020?
Response from Made in Britain member Addmaster: A high point of 2020 for us was winning The Queens Award for Biomaster.
Made in Britain: Well done Addmaster for overcoming the challenges, demonstrating the tenacity of British manufacturing and businesspeople.
Addmaster: One of the most unexpected successes for us in these unfortunate times was that many companies suddenly saw the value of making their products more hygienic and we were inundated with requests for antimicrobial additives and product tests and later in the year Sars Cov 2 tests.
Response: Each year brings new challenges and opportunities. 2020 has seen the move to online comms accelerated to comply with restrictions so we can keep going. New skills have been learned and as we start 2021 we can meet new challenges.
Response: For us it has been the orders have continued to flow in, we have explored new markets, invested in new equipment and taken on new staff despite everything that has been going on
Made in Britain: Were you planning to explore new markets in 2020 prior to the start of the year?
Response: It was on the cards as we had been very reliant on our core markets and clients. If anything Covid has accelerated our decision making and has been successful.
Made in Britain: Was your decision-making process different due to COVID? Quicker, more important?
Response: Yes, it had to be to keep pace with the continued changes both of business and the restrictions. We have found the changes to be positive and improved our efficiency as an organisation.
Response: Winning two awards for energy sustainability -very proud face Carbon neutral manufacturing
Made in Britain: That really is an achievement. When did you set out on the pathway to carbon-neutral manufacturing? how long did it take?
Response: We started in April 2019 and by June 2020 we had achieved process carbon neutrality. We are now working through the final approval for net-zero certification
Made in Britain: Many companies would be interested in this information, understanding the pathway and time scales
Response: We have a lot of content on our website http://midas-pattern.co.uk/greeninitiative and we also push a lot of info on SM using the #midasgreeninitiative so go check it out and join us in the
Response: We have had the pleasure of supporting companies all around the world in their bids towards maintaining their hygiene practices. We also picked up an award from our local county last night which we are very proud of!
Response: Investing in an EPOS system for the shop, increasing our website sales by over 200% and still somehow maintaining shop sales despite being closed for four months. We'll hopefully be in a position to take on a new team member soon too!
Made in Britain: Do you think the increased website sales will remain when the world returns to normal?
Response: I think so. During the initial lockdown 52% of our online sales were local people, but now we are getting more sales further afield. And repeat business too!
Made in Britain: Is that going to mean a change to the business model going forward with more non-local customers? For those who don't know please tell them what you sell?
Response: I still want to keep my bricks and mortar shop going but more website sales are very welcome. Lockdown gave me the opportunity to add lots of new product to the site which was great. I sell British made gifts, art and homeware and established in 2012.
Response from Made in Britain member Market Accents: The ability to allow us to work with companies to pivot to new markets, sharing insights and knowledge about #customer behaviours and looking at opportunities. Most of this had been as a result of #marketing #strategy #review and a move to #digital, including #CustomerJourneys
Response: The contracts and connections we’ve secured! From early on, we knew it could be a challenging year, but adapting our methods of marketing and connecting with leads has led to some great opportunities from unexpected sources!
Response: There has been much discussion about the increase in efficiency. Have sales teams become more efficient as a result of less travel?
Response: It has been more a case of maintaining the efficiency of in-person teamwork while not having the advantage of everyone working together in the usual office setting! But with our tools and technology, we’re able to keep our level of efficiency consistent!
Response from Made in Britain member Excell Metal Spinning: One of the biggest positives is the number of new orders, and sales increases this year! We've had a positive end to the year and are set to announce more good news in 2021! We've also seen, and also supported by Lloyd's findings, that as much as 37% more production is returning to the UK! Many times we've heard our customers highlight their need to return production home for many reasons including sustainability and to prevent future disruptions
Response: This is definitely a trend, one caused directly by the pandemic and promoted by the urge to support and buy local
Response from Made in Britain member Manthorpe: Knowing that we were able to help with supplementing the PPE supplies of the NHS made us extremely proud. We were also awarded 'Product of the Year' at the Housebuilder Awards 2020 so a great achievement for all the team.
Response: An objective of NDE Coil Winding for 2020 was already based on productivity, however the obstacles we have overcome has helped this even further. We've found ways to make things more efficient that we hadn't considered before.
Made in Britain: Has overcoming obstacles made the Team more motivated to overcome more in the future? and more confident?
Response: Overall, definitely. It's easy to get hung up on day-to-day activities, but the efforts of our staff are truly inspirational. We do not know what the future holds for us but we are even more confident that we can adapt appropriately.
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics: A particular highlight for us was winning another industry award but in general, being able to stay open and provide support to frontline workers!
Made in Britain: A lot of companies considered being able to stay open was a high point. Can you share what you received in the Secret Santa as I am sure everyone wants to know?
Response: Haha I got a Tubbz (rubber duck) dressed as Kratos (God of War), some peanut butter (in-joke) and a lego keyring! So I did well! Yeah staying open and providing PPE was great for us, we're now giving our surplus of face visors to schools as free donations to help out.
Response from Made in Britain member Cova Security Fencing: With commercial buildings empty as staff work remotely we have seen a huge surge in demand for #perimeter #security. Businesses globally are securing their premises to protect their assets within
Response: Keeping our doors open and staff employed all year has been quite an achievement for us! The bonus of being a manufacturer with a lab enabled us to launch an approved hand sanitiser range within weeks for our customers and the local community. Amazing really, very proud!
Response from Made in Britain member Muggi: Creating and launching a successful Amazon shopping site, with sales increasing month on month by 43%! Starting to make all muggi from #recycled materials, #postindustrial, #postconsumer and #ocean #plastic helping to close the loop on plastics one muggi at a time.
Question two: What has British manufacturing learned from 2020?
Response from Made in Britain member Market Accents: The importance of being able to source local components within the supply chain in case of future disruptions, the resilience & support of the local market #COVID19 & that digital/automation can ease a lot of the disruptions caused by the restrictions & keep the operation going
Response: We have gratefully received a fair amount of work from onshoring this year. Our quality, service, price and lead time is sure to keep them as long term customers (or at least that's the plan!).
Response: Do you think companies will continue to move to more local supply chains when the world returns to normal or will they think they've survived through this without them?
Response: That is a very interesting question. There are new market spaces opening up, many of which provide businesses with more opportunities to join supply chains, collaborations and partnerships. Will the world go back to normal? Not for the immediate future for sure.
Response from Made in Britain member Excell Metal Spinning: That British manufacturing truly is resilient and is here to stay! Even more so as 37% more production is planned to return to the UK over 2021 according to Lloyd's Bank report. Buying local boosts local jobs, supports sustainable efforts and mitigates supply chain risk.
Response: The value of adaptability, maintaining a positive outlook and attrition. Many businesses have had to bounce back from the negative effects of this year, and have done so thanks to their loyal customers and communities.
Response: Yes our client's in the main have been very understanding in lead times etc.
Response from Made in Britain member Manthorpe: That we are resilient, flexible and determined but that we need to have a robust manufacturing based to meet these challenges head on and we need, in some cases, to simplify our supply chains.
Response: We have certainly learned to improvise, adapt and overcome
Made in Britain: ADAPT is one word that has come up time and time again in regards to this subject. That is probably the main word and second one is EFFICIENCY
Response: The value of community! How important it is to be in touch with and work with local businesses, schools and shops so you can support each other.
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics: Hopefully the same as us, which is to try and be more agile in the market place, being flexible enough to work to tight deadlines while still thinking outside the box to problem-solve
Response: British innovation and determination will always bring the greatest to the top. Many British Manufacturers are working below the parapet and have been unnoticed. The trend for offshoring has changed, Reshoring for shorter supply chains is here to stay
Response: 2020 showed the importance of adapting and incorporating B2C marketing to support + invest in customers. Loyalty is invaluable, so reaching out to existing and potential customers is key! Also, community support is vital - as shown by #COVID!
Response: How to better analyse, improve & implement supply chain management developments. Continuous business improvement is an absolute necessity.
Question three: What are the biggest challenges facing British manufacturing in 2021?
Response: Continuing uncertainty regarding covid-19. Yes a vaccine is on the way, but it will be many months until restrictions are lifted and workers will be self-isolating at various times, disrupting your service and production
Made in Britain: Are businesses still preparing properly for the coming months? The risks are still there as you say
Response: It’s hard to prepare: between the pandemic and Brexit, it’s becoming impossible to know what’s coming our way. But we know what has and hasn’t worked over the past 10 months and we can take this knowledge forward
Response from Made in Britain member Excell Metal Spinning: I think the challenge going into the beginning of 2021 is planning! With Brexit on the horizon and a "narrow path to a trade deal", it's hard to make plans to predict the future! However, the positivity in reshoring production work gives us much to look forward to
Response: Completely agree with this! The uncertainty of the future makes it difficult to confidently plan for the upcoming year, especially when the possibility of having to make a u-turn on some decisions may be imminent.
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics: We will have to continue dealing with Covid-19 and all the challenges that it brings, along with whatever Brexit throws at us, along with the 'usual' daily, weekly, monthly challenges that we all face
Response from Made in Britain member Market Accents: Access to new markets/opportunities that have to fit into the post-Brexit environment & the ongoing COVID disruptions which will still be with us in 2021, even with a vaccine or 'health passport' on the horizon. Hybrid engagement is here to stay & must be built into future plans.
Made in Britain: How will businesses adapt to hybrid engagement. Will it be a challenge to get people to meet face to face or the opposite. A challenge to get people to continue using at least some virtual comms?
Market Accents: This is indeed a new area for everyone & we must share best practice on this point. Every business should know & understand the customer journey & changing buying behaviours from consumers and corporate clients & then tailor its engagement accordingly using preferred channels.
Response: Training and skills development for their teams. To engage and sell through video and conference calls. Even if face to face meetings turn, Video is here to stay
Made in Britain: Is part of the training to be able to decide whether it should be virtual or in-person. That may sound obvious but maybe it's quite a skill to develop?
Market Accents: That is indeed the thinking that must go into it, and the consideration of the type of engagement - should you engage local trusted representation or - if the market is large enough - even open an office locally?
Response: The difference between selling and taking orders. The lack of nonverbal cues and feedback from not being in front of a client/customer can never be replaced by Video. New training and skills need to be developed
Response: Politicians. it is important that politicians create the environment for British manufacturing to grow and expand across the world. The Private sector innovators, manufacturers, farmers and investors are the wealth creators, without them there is nothing
Response from Made in Britain member Manthorpe: Continued uncertainty makes planning very difficult but also the emergence of data integration/transformations within the supply chain.
Response: The continued Covid saga coupled with Brexit - it should all be jolly good fun!
Response: International business travel will not bounce-back next year. Exhibition 'visitors' will not return next year. Consumer spending will shrink next year. 2020 has (in general) been 'the lost year' and 2021 will be the year of 'treading water'.
Question four: Do you think the mindset of British consumers has changed towards buying more British products? If yes, is this a permanent change?
Response: We have definitely seen more British business! The spread of information (accurate or not) has certainly swayed consumer's perception of products manufactured outside of their home country, even in Britain. 2021 will prove pivotal in deciphering whether that shift remains or not.
Response from Made in Britain member Manthorpe: We believe it has in the short-term but whether that is a continued trend post the pandemic and Brexit remains to be seen. Let's hope so!
Response: Alltrade printers: yes it has and let’s all hope it stays that way
Made in Britain: What would change it back? would Brexit alone have had this effect?
Response: The current pandemic is also a reason not just Brexit for buying British products. Only time will tell. We have a very interesting year to look forward to in 2021.
Response: Campaigns such as #ShopLocal have shifted many consumers outlook away from Amazon and toward their local businesses, which is great! As long as supply chains can recoup quickly enough, 2021 should be a good year for SMEs
Response: The change can be made permanent by British manufacturers (all sectors) creating the products and services that British people want to buy. Public sector has a responsibility to ensure that we buy British before offshoring.
Made in Britain: Do British manufacturers need to diversify?
Response: Not necessarily. Excell Metal Spinning use a traditional engineering skill. Innovation in production has helped them grow an international market. Production automation and innovation is the route to growth as buyers become wary of long supply chains.
Response: Would you believe it if we told you metal-spinning is considered one of the most efficient manufacturing processes, even more so since automated methods were introduced! And with investment in R&D, we're only now realising the potential of what metal-spinning can achieve!
Response from Made in Britain member Market Accents: They should continue to innovate and stay abreast of what customers are looking for. If they stand still, others will move into the market Space. We are at a unique point in time, and the winners will be those agile enough to see the gaps and move in with quality solutions.
Market Accents: Yes it has. And I would suggest that there is a push by both the government and trade bodies to promote more British products and #manufacturing. #buyBritish
Response: For me personally yes - you want to buy something locally sourced & made. As a company we have global supply chains (as some items we need simply aren't manufactured in the UK) but we lovingly design & build them here in #Hayes
Response from Made in Britain member Peerless Plastics: I think it has yes, off the back of the pandemic and small business' struggling i've seen more and more consumers (myself included) trying to help them out and buying local, buying British and trying to keep things afloat.
Response: The mindset of 'some' consumers toward buy-British has changed permanently. For others, the influence of Amazon & eBay impact their choices heavily. British makers have the opportunity to influence this choice through consistency of value, quality & service.
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