De-risking supply chains, mitigating long lead times and ensuring security of supply are driving a major reshoring trend back to the UK according to a leading manufacturing boss.

Tony Hague, CEO of PP Control & Automation (PP C&A), believes that cost and availability of freight, combined with huge economic and political uncertainty, is changing perceptions when it comes to the ‘total cost of acquisition’ and this translates into a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity for domestic manufacturers.

His own business is already reaping dividends, picking up new contract manufacturing orders with OEMs involved in transport, energy and power and warehousing and logistics.

These clients had previously worked with partners in China, Eastern Europe and India, but have recently turned their attention closer to home to achieve higher added value and shorter lead times.

“Reshoring is happening and the opportunity for the wider UK economy will only increase in my opinion,” commented Tony, who was named in LDC’s top 50 most ambitious business leaders last year.

“The political and economic landscape is volatile, and this is driving questions relating to risks and costs around ‘extended’ and distant supply chains. There is also growing environmental concerns, as well as corporate and social responsibility of partners that reside in the supply chain.”

He continued: “All of this means we are now more competitive than ever, and this is encouraging companies to return to the UK or increase local content.”

PP Control & Automation, which employs 230 people at its world class factory in Cheslyn Hay, is on course to post £28m sales for the last twelve months, with a future order pipeline suggesting further growth is on the horizon.

The strategic manufacturing outsourcing specialist has seen demand for its services rise by 25% on the previous year and bosses at the firm believe this is due to a combination of reshoring and an increasing number of high technology businesses bringing new innovations to market.

Member of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), the firm has recently widened its engineering and manufacturing capabilities to include a more comprehensive mechanical/pneumatic offer and a dedicated Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) area to support electronics integration.

“The opportunity is there, but UK manufacturers need to be bold and brave to ensure they take advantage of it,” added Tony.

“We need to invest in people, process and automation in order to create manufacturing models that are agile and flexible. Focus and spend in areas where you have really strong core competences and ensure you partner with experts in their respective fields.”

He concluded: “Companies do not need to get bogged down with high levels of vertical integration, it just causes higher overheads and can lead to lack of flexibility when capacity and demand cycles changes.

“Get this balance right and there’s no reason why UK manufacturers can’t overcome international rivals by delivering design for manufacturing support, security of supply and more added value.”

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