The 22 trade associations behind the Reshoring UK say the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the weakness of many complex supply chains and underlined the benefits of working with UK suppliers.
Julia Moore, CEO of the GTMA, which led the initiative, says: “Ever since manufacturers began outsourcing production to more competitively priced overseas economies there has been a race to the bottom based on price,” states CEO Julia Moore. “However, there is an intrinsic value attached to making things here in the UK, not least being the opportunities to innovate. Reshoring UK highlights the skills and resources of the UK supply chains and aids manufacturers when considering domestic production for new projects or for the relocation ‘onshore’ of existing work programmes.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic exposing the frailties of many of the UK supply chains, underlining in stark detail just how reliant many have become on the overseas supply of critical items, there should be more impetus put on re-establishing UK production of these parts and protect SME manufacturing.
The Reshoring UK initiative has been developed to assist manufacturers locate and understand the breadth of skills vested in the SME engineering companies capable of delivering UK-based products and services.
The website portal has been created to help re-establish the capability required to meet manufacturers demands and those businesses that have used it in this current crisis have realised just how much capability and competence is available within the UK.
Even before the global threat from COVID-19 there was a paradigm shift from OEMs looking at the benefits of reshoring. Research by Lloyds Bank, a sponsor of the Reshoring UK facility, showed that over a third of firms were planning to move manufacturing processes back to the UK from areas such as Asia and eastern Europe – with quality one of the main drivers.
Pam Murrell, CEO of the Cast Metals Federation, which was one of the first trade associations to support Reshoring UK, says: “I would like to believe that there are some significant opportunities for more local sourcing and an increase in the amount of manufacturing carried out here in the UK.
“We have seen the challenges that long supply chains can cause and how easily they can be fractured. At the same time, we have a manufacturing supply chain in the UK that is dominated by SMEs who battle on against sometimes impossible odds.
“The UK rightly insists upon good H&S conditions for workers, as well as encouraging a focus on resource and energy efficiency, so just continuing to export our carbon footprint is not ethical. It looks like we shall need lots of new jobs to support the UK economy in the short and medium term – the wider value to the UK economy offered by the skilled and high value jobs in manufacturing, in terms of skills, local taxes and apprenticeships, should be factored in, certainly to any national procurement and infrastructure projects, with fiscal stimuli aimed at supporting investment and improving productivity.”