Manufacturing products in the UK is considered an advantageous selling point for many companies in this country. However, how important is it really? Phil Marris, managing director of Ecodek, a UK manufacturer of wood composite decking, explores the meaning of manufacturing here in the UK:
“For the last two decades, consumers and businesses in Western economies have relied increasingly on extended international supply chains to consume imported products, often at the expense of investment in local manufacturing. Recent global events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, have exposed the fragility of this reliance, and have resulted in shortages and rising inflation.
“This instability of extended international supply chains and long lead times can have a serious impact on any business that relies on them, damaging their reputation and their ability to service their customers efficiently.”
Strong supply chains
“One way of negating some of these issues is to source products that are manufactured here in the UK. This will provide greater control, security, and transparency in your supply chain. Materials have less distance to travel, and potential barriers are reduced. It is also much clearer to see where the materials are coming from and therefore easier to ensure that they are being responsibly sourced and that the factories in which they are produced conform to UK employment, social and environmental standards.
“This stronger supply chain also results in greater reliability and shorter lead times. Reliability, in terms of guaranteed delivery and product availability, is crucial to the success of purchasing companies. Shorter lead times provide greater flexibility, allowing them to take on ‘last minute’ jobs and give their customers great service!”
Considering your carbon footprint
“Excessive transportation of products and materials is a key consideration for any company that cares about its environmental impact, Ecodek included. Reducing carbon footprints and creating an environmentally considerate company is high on many consumer, corporate and investor agendas. By keeping manufacturing in the UK, businesses can help to achieve their goals through reduced international transportation and greater control over delivery schedules.
“This ethos underpins everything Ecodek stands for. We have worked hard to become a carbon negative manufacturer and to ensure our products are as eco-friendly as possible, which we have achieved, in part, by manufacturing our products here in the UK and having greater control over all our business processes.”
“A product manufactured in the UK usually comes with a guarantee of quality. This is not always the case, but having better control over the materials you use, your work force and the processes you deploy, means you have greater control over the quality of product you produce. You can also ensure all legal and ethical requirements are being met.
“From a manufacturers point of view, producing products in this country provides greater freedom in terms of product development and the ability to offer a wider range of products, especially bespoke products designed and produced in partnership with key customers. It also gives us a competitive edge when it comes to lead times, as we do not rely as much on long term stock forecasting.
“For Ecodek, manufacturing our products in the UK gives us a distinct advantage over our competitors, most of whom simply import product manufactured in the Far East or the USA. The control we have over the component materials and the manufacturing processes we use means we can guarantee high quality products every time.
“We are also proud that by manufacturing our wood composite decking solutions in this country, we are investing in the UK as well as providing employment opportunities for British workers. Our customers recognise that partnering with us helps them to fulfil their own social as well as environmental commitments.
“We appreciate that for some companies manufacturing their products abroad may be the cheaper option. However, we believe that by having close control over the materials and processes we use and the people we employ, we can provide our customers with a transparent supply chain, an extremely reliable service, and the highest quality product possible.”