Help for UK manufacturers

16 February 2009

A UK government backed service is urging manufacturers to draw on its expertise as production dives and unemployment soars. The BERR Manufacturing Service (MAS) proposes a ten-point plan to survive the recession.

MAS, a government backed service, is offering UK manufacturers a helping hand through the recession
MAS, a government backed service, is offering UK manufacturers a helping hand through the recession

‘Having learnt from previous recessions the manufacturing sector is more resilient, more productive and leaner than ever before. Although the economic situation is challenging to even the leanest of companies an intervention from MAS can help you make it better,’ Roger Parr, national network manager for MAS said.

He added: ‘Manufacturers are under pressure on several fronts: credit flow, variable energy prices and a weak pound, increasing the cost of imported materials.’

Parr said it was essential to utilise sophisticated means to remain competitive.

He proposes a ten point plan to ensure manufacturers are in a strong position when the economy rallies:

1. Decide what your company’s key objective is - growth or survival - and tailor your business strategy accordingly.

2. If you haven’t started the Lean journey, now is the time to do it – work out how you can reduce waste from your company so it works to higher profit margins

3. Work proactively with your supply chain – if bottlenecks are removed and it’s working more efficiently, your company will function better

4. Reduce energy costs by implementing an Environmental Management System (EMS) – this can be anything from switching lights off to purchasing energy efficient machinery and installing energy monitors

5. Do not neglect R&D – try and identify new opportunities and markets and take advantage of the current economic climate

6. Keep customer service levels high – retaining your client base is crucial and a lot of manufacturing business is conducted via word-of-mouth, so ensure your business’s reputation is credible

7. Share best practice – work with local manufacturers and pool knowledge resources as they are probably encountering the same dilemmas as you

8. Keep employer-employee communications fluid – produce visual management chart and mapping systems so that every member of the team knows where they’re up to

9. Think very carefully about your options before off-shoring production and consider some of the pitfalls, such as longer lead times and the inability to monitor quality and production levels

10. Seek external advice – this is where MAS practitioners can help

Parr said: ‘Our practitioners have manufacturing backgrounds, they understand the sector and bear the scars of experience. This allows them to provide authoritative, pragmatic advice and help implement manufacturing programmes that deliver quantifiable results.

‘Our goal is simple: to provide support to the SMEs that fuel this country’s economy. We want manufacturers to survive this downturn so that they are in a strategic position to thrive when the situation improves.’

Funded by Government and the Regional Development Agencies MAS offers practical help and advice for manufacturers by manufacturers. It is delivered manufacturing experts in 11 regional MAS centres which offer expert tailored support recognising the needs and priorities of local manufacturers. This localised expertise and understanding is critical in successfully delivering a high quality service that can support our manufacturers in local, national and global markets.

MAS is part of BERR’s Solutions for Business programme and aims to stimulate the use of manufacturing best practice to help manufacturers identify and implement improvements in productivity and competitiveness. The MAS regional centres offer the opportunity for manufacturers to have direct contact with manufacturing experts specialising in assisting SMEs, they also partner with the Business Link which provides a gateway to a further range of Solutions for Business products which can support manufacturers with Investment, legal, sales and marketing areas.

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