Written by Gerry Dunne, Chairman of the Midlands Assembly Network
Back in 2005, the UK was under siege. A combination of low cost, low labour from emerging nations arriving on the scene caused a lot of UK manufacturing heavyweights to slip into liquidation or close plants and move elsewhere; the most noticeable casualties being MG Rover, Peugeot Ryton and ACGO.
As relatively small component suppliers we needed a new approach to tackling these threats and used support from Advantage West Midlands and Accelerate to create a network of like-minded companies who could work together to retain and win work.
The next seven years has seen MAN evolve more than we could ever have expected.
Now funded entirely by the businesses, the collective is ten-strong and can offer clients a single source manufacturing solution to any enquiry imaginable.
Clients can use one, two or all ten of the MAN companies and are given a dedicated point of contact - usually the lead member - to manage the enquiry from start to finish.
There are currently four projects that involve multiple members and this will lead to world firsts in renewables and the automotive industry, not to mention high profile contracts in aerospace, white goods and medical.
So why does it work and why hasn’t it been copied? Well we know others have tried, but failed and the reason behind this is we have found ten member companies who all have different competencies and do not compete.
Furthermore, we all share a commitment to world class manufacturing, innovation and promoting the UK overseas.
The latter has already seen us develop a brand for the Midlands Assembly Network, develop our own website, appoint a dedicated PR resource and attend more exhibitions due to being able to split the cost ten ways.
One of our member companies securing a regular £25k tooling order has even enabled us to embrace social media.
As a direct result of involvement in MAN, the Group has secured new sales worth more than £10m, helped to safeguard and create in excess of 200 jobs, repatriated £2m of contracts back to the UK and secured £6m of media coverage.
And finally, through our ten factories - employing in excess of 650 people – we export £28m of parts across the world…all manufactured in the UK.
The 10 member companies currently include:
· Advanced Chemical Etching
· Alucast (Aluminum castings)
· Barkley Plastics (Injection moulding)
· Brandauer (High volume precision pressings)
· FW Cables (Cables and harnesses)
· Lightning Aerospace (Fabrication)
· PP Electrical Systems (Electrical and electronic assemblies)
· SMT Developments (Electronic contract manufacturer)
· Westley Engineering (Press tools, presswork and stampings)
· Wrekin Circuits (PCB manufacture)