Ireland’s largest manufacturing supply chain conference worth in excess of €170,000 to Limerick’s hospitality sector

Posted by Jim on June 11, 2018  /   Posted in Blog

Ireland’s largest manufacturing supply chain conference and trade exhibition – Manufacturing Solutions 2018 – has just gotten bigger, with this year’s event estimated to be worth in excess of €170,000 to the local hospitality sector in Limerick.

Hosted by the The Gauge and Tool Makers Association (GTMA) and Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT), this one day event on June 13 is also worth hundreds of thousands of euros to the engineering and manufacturing industry, as it opens up more trade opportunities between Ireland and the UK.

A conduit for sharing ideas, skills and knowledge, the event continues to grow in popularity as more than 90 delegates plan to travel from the UK to Limerick this year.

More than 100 exhibition spaces were sold out just months after last year’s inaugural show, and Manufacturing Solutions 2018 is garnering huge support from industry and Government bodies from both sides of the Irish Sea.

The British Embassy in Ireland and the UK’s Department for International Trade have lent their support to this UK-Irish event.

British Ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett said, “This important event highlights the innovation, skills and talent to be found in manufacturing technology and engineering companies across Ireland and the UK.”

“It reaffirms the important trading relationship between our two countries and opportunities to collaborate and build strong partnerships to deliver new, innovative solutions to a global marketplace,” he said.

In total more than 100 of the most advanced providers of metrology, inspection, machine tools, work holding, cutting tools, and Cad/Cam/PLM manufacturing software and ancillary products and services will be exhibiting in LIT’s Moylish Campus on Wednesday June 13, 2018.

The €600,000 state-of-the-art, CNC Penta Machine acquired by Panalok Ltd, Ennis, will also be unveiled for the first time at the event.

The machine, which has previously been on show in Chicago, Milan and Birmingham, will be onsite at the Limerick conference demonstrating its ability to make a range of very small, high precision fasteners for the aerospace industry.

GTMA Chief Executive Officer, Julia Moore is looking forward to another successful Manufacturing Solutions.

Ms Moore said, “Last year the GTMA held its first ever conference outside the UK. We were confident that having the trade show and conference at LIT would prove successful, but Manufacturing Solutions 2017 far surpassed our expectations.

“With just over a week to go until this year’s conference and trade show we are heartened by the ever increasing support. We are delighted to have Shannon IASC, Cook Medical, Enterprise Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Limerick Chamber, Shannon Chamber and Mid West Regional Skills support this year’s event.”

“Our guest speakers Denzil J. Lawrence, Boeing Supplier Development; John Drysdale, Business Development Manager, Shannon Group; and Dr. Richard Keegan, Manager, Competitiveness Department, Enterprise Ireland will discuss the Mid West’s thriving aerospace and aviation industry. This growth industry employs over 1,600 people in more than 40 aerospace and aviation companies based in the region,” she said.

“We are also delighted to have David Murray, Senior Research Engineer, Cook Medical present a talk on the all important Industry 4.0, INCASE, and innovation partnership projects.”

Programme leader in Precision Engineering at LIT, Ciaran O’Loughlin said, “Manufacturing Solutions is an opportunity to highlight engineering excellence but also a way to foster closer relations and profitable opportunities in the wake of Brexit.”

“LIT plays a leading role in ensuring manufacturing in this region continues to have the ability to adapt and to change and remain at the cutting edge when it comes to technology. It is fitting therefore that our successful partnership with the GTMA allows us to bring leading technology suppliers together allowing for the transfer of technology from the specialist suppliers to the practical industrial landscape.”

Manufacturing Solutions 2018 will take place in LIT, Moylish Campus on Wednesday June 13, 2018 from 8.30am to 5pm.

For more information and to register for the showcase, please visit


InterTradeIreland Meet The Buyer Event 2018 ‘Selling to NI Government’

Posted by Jim on April 30, 2018  /   Posted in Blog


InterTradeIreland in conjunction with its partner organisations is holding another Meet the Buyer event:

Armagh City Hotel, Armagh, Co Armagh
Wednesday 13th June 2018
8:30am – 1:30pm

  • If you are an SME this event is an opportunity for you to:
    • Meet the sourcing teams from the 9 Centres Of Procurement Expertise (CoPE) and other key NI public sector buyers
    • Meet Sourcing teams from the 11 Councils in Northern Ireland
    • Hear from NI public sector buyers about their procurement processes, what they want from suppliers and upcoming opportunities
    • Visit one of the information sessions.
    • Find out about the latest procurement news and trends
    • Find out about funding opportunities and supports available

For more information and to register Click Here.


Looking For Startup Grants? Here’s an overview of the programs on offer In Ireland.

Posted by Jim on April 04, 2018  /   Posted in Blog
courtesy of Accountantonline
4th April 2018

Looking for funding? Do you have a business idea that you want to make a reality? Or are you an established SME with plans to grow?

Ireland is one of the top 10 easiest countries to set up a business in. Dublin ranks 8 out of 60 major hubs in the latest European Digital City Index (European Digital Forum think-tank).

With so many new business projects there has been a massive increase in the demand for startup grants and startup funding.

If you have a feasible business idea but need some help in getting started,  read below to find out more about the funding programmes available.

Do you want to set up a business? Have you thought about looking for funding and grants?


Government/Public Startup Grants & Support

There are over 170 different Government supports for Irish startups and small businesses. This guide aims to help Irish startups and small businesses navigate the range of Government supports to identify the ones most relevant to you.

Local Enterprise Office

Your local Enterprise Office in Ireland can give you advice, information and support on your startup or growing business. Support from your local Enterprise Office includes:

  • Start-your-own-business training courses.
  • Market research information.
  • Business planning advice and templates.
  • Access to experienced business mentors.
  • Feasibility grants and co-investment for your plans.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland has a range of supports and grants that are available to startups and small businesses in Ireland. Their funding programmes are open to anyone such as, entrepreneurs with a business idea that have the potential for a startup to large companies that want to expand their business activities, improve efficiency and grow sales.

High Potential Start-up (HPSU)

Enterprise Ireland’s HPSU support and investment is aimed at startup businesses that are headquartered and controlled in Ireland. Your business should have the potential to become an innovative product or service for the international market and have the potential to create 10 jobs and €1m in export sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up.

Your nearest Enterprise Ireland office has a specialist startup team that can advise you on your application and give you support for moving your business forward.

Competitive Start Fund (CSF)

The Competitive Start Fund helps accelerate startup companies that have the capability to become High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) companies by offering €1.5m funding. The application process involves the submission of a written proposal and a video pitch. In addition, there is a Competitive Start Fund specifically for Female Entrepreneurs on an annual basis. Enterprise Ireland states that this fund is open for applications several times throughout the year with calls made for specific sectors, female-led startups, and entrepreneurs based outside of Ireland.

Regional Enterprise Development Fund 2017-2020

The Regional Enterprise Development Fund supports up to 30 successful applicants and they will receive business development support and an investment of up to €50,000 each. The open call for this funding is currently closed but it’s good to know that this is on offer. We will keep you updated when it reopens. 

New Frontiers

New Frontiers is concerned with progressing more early-stage ideas (0-6 Months) from a business concept to an investable business. It is by far the best way to get money if you are a startup in the early stages. Funded and managed by Enterprise Ireland, New Frontiers is a national programme. Currently, it’s based in 14 incubation centers across the country.

However, if you’re worried because you have already received Enterprise Ireland funding in the past two years don’t be. You can still participate in the programme but will not be eligible for the €15,000 startup grants.

For applicants to be successful, New Frontiers states that participants are selected based on:

  • Track record
  • Business experience or acumen
  • Capability – having the necessary management and technical skills. A suitable background that will enable the development of a business with sustainable competitive advantage
  • Credibility
  • Commitment, drive & determination
  • Quality of the business idea

Overall, startup grants aim to boost the growth of startups in Ireland. Thus, enabling your business to reach full potential.

There are excellent funding and support programmes out there. You just need to find the one that suits you.

Private Sector Support for Startup Funding

NDRC is an early stage investor in tech companies with the main focus on their NDRC Catalyser investment programme. Additionally, its aim is to identify startups and founder teams who meet a significant global unmet market need or problem. For instance, this startup grant could be for you if your startup has;

  • Deep know-how in technology
  • A globally scalable product or services-led propositions
  • Potential to be investor ready or revenue generating within 6 -9 months
  • A strong commercial and technical team.

InterTrade Ireland, are a cross-border body, covering the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, who offers a guide to become ‘investor ready’. Additionally, they specialise in early-stage startups and provide a range of services and advice.

The Seedcorn Competition is another opportunity for startups. Primarily, startups who require new equity funding as funding received can be up to €280,000. The Seedcorn is basically a two-step application which includes:

  • Registration and initial application form
  • Visual representation of the business idea i.e either a short video clip or a slide show presentation – or both.

Event offering guidance to startup grants

Supports For Women Entrepreneurs

There a number of supports to support women entrepreneurs and increase women’s entrepreneurial activity in Ireland.

Women-Founded High Potential Start-Ups (HPSU)

The Enterprise Ireland Female Entrepreneurship Unit have established the importance of supporting women entrepreneurs to launch and grow their startups. The requirements for the women-founded HPSU are the exact same as all the other HPSU.

Going For Growth

Going For Growth is specifically for women entrepreneurs and to support women who are serious about growing their businesses, which has been trading for at least two years. Interactive roundtable sessions are facilitated by successful entrepreneurs and practical knowledge comes from lead entrepreneurs sharing their experiences of owning and managing successful businesses.

DCU’s Ryan Academy

DCU’s Ryan Academy supports women entrepreneurs by offering funding and support programmes that address the challenges women face in business. In 2017, they ran ‘Building Better Futures: Migrant Women’s Entrepreneurship Training‘ to provide migrant women with an overview of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in Ireland.

Female High Fliers is an accelerator programme that is currently open for Ireland’s best early stage startups and is specifically designed to address the challenges facing women entrepreneurs (applications close on 23rd January). This programme is open to startups that are less than 5 years old and helps them to accelerate to the next level.


Ribicon in Cork Institute of Technology offers a range of programmes to support women entrepreneurship. In 2017, they ran the Excel Female Entrepreneurship STEM Programme, which was designed to support entrepreneurs with a business idea that had high growth and export potential within the Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) industry.

There are specific programmes to support women entrepreneurs in Ireland

Other Supports

Dublin BIC offers support in four key areas: investor-ready preparation, access to finance, incubation space and community and collaboration.

Halo Business Angel Network offer investment to companies that are usually headquartered in Ireland and in the Technology, MedTech, AgriTech or Food industry.

Crowdfunding is a great way for small businesses to get support from a large number of people. Ireland has a number of crowdfunding options such as Kickstarter Ireland.

Support For Startups Moving To Ireland

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland offers Investment Support and Pre-Investment Support for startups moving to Ireland. Investment support includes helping projects that are coming from overseas, that are fully investor ready and meet all their criteria. This support is offered under Enterprise Ireland’s €10m fund to attract international startups to come to Ireland.

Pre-Investment Support is aimed at projects that meet their other criteria and have made some progress but are not fully investor ready and can apply to attend an accelerator programme. Enterprise Ireland can offer some participants on accelerator programmes a grant to cover living costs.

Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP)

The Immigrant Investor Programme is open to non-EEA nationals who commit to an approved investment in Ireland. The programme requires a minimum investment of €1m, from the applicants own resources and not financed through a loan or other such facility and must be committed for a minimum of three years.

Start-up Entrepreneur Programme

The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme allows a non-EEA national with an innovative business idea and minimum funding of €50,000 to come and set up a business in Ireland.

Not Ready To Apply For Startup Programmes?

We understand that it can be a lengthy process to get your startup funding-ready. Pre-accelerator programmes are a great way to get support and practical coaching and experience before you start applying for startup/accelerator programmes.

NDRC’s Pre-Acceleration Programmes

The NDRC offer pre-acceleration and pre-commercialisation programmes. The pre-acceleration programme provides support for potential entrepreneurs who have an idea in technology/digital transformation. The pre-commercialistion programme is aimed to help researchers actively prepare for Enterprise Ireland commercialisation funding, feasibility funding and pre-seed investment. In 2016, NDRC ran 3 industry focused pre-accelerator programmes: HealthTech Pre-Accelerator, Fintech Pre-Accelerator, and InsurTech. Keep an eye out for their future programmes.

Startup Boost

Startup Boost is a global tech startup pre-accelerator with locations in Dublin, London, Toronto, Detroit, Austin and L.A. It is a 6-week part-time programme for early-stage entrepreneurs to prepare them for accelerator programs, seed investment and revenue. You will get access to mentoring, networking and coaching as well as connections with top accelerators, seed investors, and industry partners. There is no fee charged and no equity taken.

Propel Pre-Accelerator

Propel pre-accelerator is a programme that provides mentoring support and helps with refining business ideas and identifying growth opportunities. This programme supports up to 20 entrepreneurs to build a business, teaches you how to scale your business, reach significant export growth and secure external investment. Keep in mind that this is a UK-based, so your business must be in the UK or you should be willing to relocate there.

EIC Climate – KIC Pre-Incubator

EIC Climate – KIC is a programme for starting entrepreneurs who have a climate business idea and the motivation to make it happen. You will get access to tailored workshops, a community of climate entrepreneurs and support to help develop your idea and create or improve your business plan.

Startup Competitions in Ireland

There are many competitions, grants and award programmes for a variety of startup sector. You don’t have to be in the tech area to enter these.

Are you 30 or under with a business idea or an existing business? If so, then Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE) Competition is an option for you.
Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition is open to all sectors. Initially, the competition takes place at County level with a prize fund of €50,000 available to the winners of three separate categories.  In addition, unlike many of the schemes mentioned above, applicants from overseas are eligible to apply. The competition categories are:

Advice For The Application Process

If you plan on applying for any funding or support, it is common that they will ask you to submit in-depth details about your business. Whether that is in a video, written, poster or face-to-face interviews, here’s how we recommend you prepare:

  • Use Facts and be specific. Back statements with relevant evidence of business activities, i.e statistic or examples.
  • Know your business model thoroughly. It will make explaining it an easier task.
  • Make relevant content such as product specifications, business plans and so on available to the judges. Consider including links to your website.
  • As soon as the application opens, you should begin producing your video pitch – it may take longer than you think.
  • Study the marking scheme. This can give you insight into how to divide your time.

What Support Networks Are Available To Startups?

Often Banks offer free support systems. Some providing free mentoring, others offer a space for you to work. You can read more about banking support on our blog.

Startup support websites often provide helpful templates for business plans and managing cash-flow. Furthermore, these are particularly useful tools during the application phase for a startup grant.

Bank of Ireland’s drop-in workbench space for startups, has been internationally recognized for its services. The concept of Workbench is to connect entrepreneurs, community, and branch by offering a free dedicated area for co-working. Most of all, it provides a space for free clinics, events, and seminars. We also hold special events for startups, such as guidance seminars and webinars with question and answer sessions and lots of advice.

One of the most useful practices any startup owner or entrepreneur can adopt is to attend as many relevant networking events as possible. Generally, most networking is free, websites like Eventbrite are great for sourcing local meetups. Whereas, bigger events like Inspirefest can be costly, but valuable.

Do Limited Companies Have Increased Chances Of Receiving A Startup Grant?

The simple answer is yes. More startup grants and support are available to limited companies setting up in Ireland.

The sole trader or limited company pros and cons are a great starting point for anyone thinking about setting up as a limited company. Becoming a limited company not only increases the chance of receiving a startup grant but also boosts the credibility of the business.

Getting the right investors for your new business is critical. Before agreeing to an investment you should do everything you can to get to know those investors. Reach out to CEO’s/founders of companies they’ve invested in to understand what role they played post-investment.

Want to know how others did it? Come along to our next Entrepreneurs Anonymus event. We will have speakers letting you in on their secrets on how they got funding for their business.

Celebration of the best of Lisburn & Castlereagh’s businesses

Posted by Jim on March 30, 2018  /   Posted in Blog

Fri 30th Mar 2018

Created by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council

New supports for SMEs to access public spending worth €12 billion

Posted by Jim on February 20, 2018  /   Posted in Blog


At the end of January, Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan TD launched a new range of materials from the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) to encourage SME participation in the Irish public procurement process.


SMEs – the initiative includes a series of introductory breakfast briefings in Waterford, Athlone, Cork, Galway, Newbridge and Limerick, organised by InterTradeIreland, whilst free to attend you must register! A range of videos explaining the procurement process was also launched – including case studies.

Ad-Vance Engineering- a high technology approach to serving industry

Posted by Jim on February 19, 2018  /   Posted in Blog

5th February 2018

Business Eye

Tucked up next door to the Maze regeneration site and Eikon Exhibition Centre to the west of Lisburn is a Northern Ireland company successfully marrying traditional manufacturing skills with the latest technology.

Ad-Vance Engineering designs and manufactures complex injection moulds for use in the plastics manufacturing industry and it’s a company with customers all over the island of Ireland, British Isles and beyond. “There really isn’t anyone else doing what we’re doing here in Northern Ireland,” says Roger Vance, Managing Director and the man who founded the company 14 years ago. “We’re the only company capable of manufacturing high specification moulds for the plastics industry that is based here. All of our competitors are either elsewhere in Southern Ireland the British Isles or overseas. “Our proactive approach to the market enables us to focus on a customer’s specific needs and translate those requirements into bespoke solutions.” A toolmaker by trade, Dungannon man Vance worked at the old Ford Motor Company plant at Finaghy in Belfast before joining the team at the former Wilsanco Plastics (now Greiner Packaging) back in Dungannon where he managed the tool room operations. His own company, Ad-Vance Engineering, was established at the Altona Industrial Estate in Lisburn in 2004 but moved in more recent years to a larger site which Ad-Vance acquired close to the Maze complex. The company receives a package of support from Invest Northern Ireland and it’s an operation which ticks most of the boxes for the economic support agency.

Not only is it a growing indigenous manufacturer with an important role in the supply chain, but it’s also a company built on innovation and one with growing export success. Ad-Vance employs a team of nine and Roger Vance has been joined in the business by his son Sam, a mechanical engineering masters graduate who worked as a project engineer for GE Aviation in Wales before returning home. Ad-Vance Engineering has customers across a range of industry sectors – automotive, medical, healthcare packaging and building products amongst them. “We’ve built a strong reputation at the quality end of the market,” explains Roger Vance. “Plastics manufacturers can source moulds relatively cheaply from Far Eastern manufacturers, but competing on price with China isn’t something we want to do. We’re manufacturing high quality products for customers who insist on quality.” As well as manufacturing, Ad-Vance Engineering also offers a mould repair service, and is active in technical research and development producing a range of prototypes for its customer base. On the prototyping front, the Lisburn firm can offer the very latest in 3D printing technology, enabling it to produce prototypes quickly as well as relatively cheaply. A member of the Gauge & Tool Makers Association, the company is a past winner of the R&D category at the Lisburn Business Awards and it has taken part in two of Lisburn & Castlereagh Council’s Westminster trade missions. “A current focus for us as a company is to make sure that we qualify for the suppliers lists at some of the Tier 1 GB-based manufacturers in the automotive and other key sectors,” adds Roger Vance.

“We work in partnership with the companies we supply. We will help to develop their end products right from the design phase. The moulds that we produce and supply, after all, are crucial to their manufacturing process and to the quality of the products they’re supply to their customers. “Complex designs normally go through numerous design alterations before sign-off and this requires an approach to toolmaking that combines a partnership approach with a strong focus on quality. “Only locally-based toolmakers can tick all of the boxes for clients, and I think that’s why our prototyping expertise is increasingly being recognised.” Ad-Vance Engineering plans to recruit new members of staff, but Roger Vance admits that it’s verging on the impossible to find skilled toolmakers in the current marketplace. Two apprentices are currently working with the company, having been recruited from the local further education college. The Lisburn company also has links with the Polymer Research Centre established at Queen’s University in Belfast, regularly attends trade shows in GB as well as the annual British Plastics Industry Awards, held last year at the Hilton Park Lane in London. “The fact is that almost every manufacturing industry needs plastics in some shape or form and that’s not a situation that is likely to change,” says Roger Vance. “Our objective is to continue to produce high quality moulds and to make sure that we build our customer base on the island of Ireland, in Great Britain and overseas.” The company offers a complete tooling solution from initial design concepts through to prototyping, manufacture, testing, installation and after-sales repair and maintenance. Investment in the latest CNC machinery and CAD/CAM software systems has helped to ensure that Ad-Vance has the capability to manufacture mould tool components to tolerance of as little as +/- 5 microns. The company’s products are sophisticated in design. An injection mould can cost from a few thousand pounds up to £150,000 depending on size and scale. “Traditional toolmaking skills lie behind what we do here. But the manual toolmaking machines have been consigned to history now. It’s a very complex, technology-driven 21st century design and manufacturing process, and one with quality at its core.”

It’s a myth large firms favoured in public contracts

Posted by Jim on February 19, 2018  /   Posted in Blog

By Patrick O’Donovan

Patrick O’Donovan is Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Our State spends approximately €12.5bn every year on goods, works, and services. This represents a significant opportunity for our businesses to sell to public bodies and to grow. Myself and my colleagues in Government are committed to making sure that all SMEs are aware of this opportunity and have the supports they need to compete.

One of the keyroles I have as a Minister for State is the responsibility for the Office of Government Procurement (OGP). The OGP sources goods and services on behalf of public sector bodies. Its work represents an opportunity to achieve value for money by pooling significant demand. However, we have to balance the drive to make savings with the need to make sure that firms from the SME sector have a fair opportunity to access public spending. Striking this balance has been, and continues to be, a major priority for this Government.

Some facts: Almost 70% of the firms on OGP frameworks are from the SME sector and our analysis shows that most of the money spent–52%–is spent with SMEs. There are areas, such as gas and electricity where larger firms are the obvious supplier. But there are also categories of spend where SMEs are a natural solution. In marketing, print, and stationery, for example, 70% of public expenditure goes to SMEs. Our analysis also shows the vast majority of spending–94%– is done in Ireland. It is true our public procurement rules support the European single market and offer opportunities for other European firms to bid. But we must also remember the same rules give Irish firms access to a wider European market worth in excess of €2 trillion.

Every time the OGP establishes a new framework, it undertakes extensive market research to understand the structure and dynamics of the market and how to ensure SMEs have the opportunity to compete. The OGP does this in a number of ways including by breaking competitions down into smaller lots by geography or specialism, introducing proportionate requirements in terms of firms’ turnover and insurance, and providing pre-competition briefings. Nobody disputes that public procurement, done correctly, can take longer than it does in the private sector. Transparency demands this. For firms that do succeed, however, the scale of the opportunity and the benefits of prompt public payments can make a transformative difference to their business. And smaller firms don’t always have to undertake the work of bidding in competitions alone. Consortia of firms can come together to meet the criteria for a competition.

I chair an SME advisory group tasked with further promoting SME access to public procurement opportunities. This group has representatives from the OGP, Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, InterTradeIreland, Enterprise Ireland, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, and business groups Ibec, Isme, SFA, Chambers Ireland, and the Construction Industry Federation.

A recent key recommendation of the group was better communication to SMEs. In response, the OGP has developed a series of breakfast briefings, delivered by our partners in InterTradeIreland, which are currently being delivered around the country. The briefings are supported by a range of videos explaining public procurement in plain English that can be accessed from the OGP website. But I recognise there is more we can do to simplify the process for smaller firms. More of our processes, from qualifying documents to invoices, are moving online. This streamlines public procurement and reduces the bureaucratic burden on businesses of all sizes.

It is a myth that larger suppliers are favoured by the public procurement process. Smaller firms can and do win business selling to public bodies. When they do, we know that the impact is immense, as they take on new people, open up new lines of activity, and invest in their premises and communities. SMEs also promote healthy competition and offer innovative solutions and that is why we are committed to continuing to ensure that they have the opportunity to bid.

Patrick O’Donovan is Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

It’s not just about the money

Posted by Jim on February 15, 2018  /   Posted in Blog

14 Feb 2018

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

The UK’s manufacturing output hit its highest levels in ten years at the start of 2018. The nation’s headlines hailed this as a sign industry has turned a corner and put the economic crisis in the past. Rob McDermott, purchasing manager for steering system manufacturer Pailton Engineering, explains why this is the ideal time to assess your supply chain.

It’s taken a decade, but manufacturing is beginning to recover from the effects of the global economic crisis of 2008. On January 10, 2018 the BBC’s economics editor, Kamal Ahmed, stated that this is the first time since 2008 that “the three main engines of global growth — the USA, China and Europe — are performing strongly at the same time”.

Combined with the UK Government’s flagship Industrial Strategy, the future looks bright for manufacturers. However, businesses risk missing out if they don’t ensure they have the proper foundations. The lifeline of manufacturing is the supply chain, and it’s never been more important to work with suppliers that are in sync with you.

Stop putting price at the top of the list

After working so hard to move on from any economic crisis it can be hard to stop letting price be the deciding factor in choosing suppliers. However, of the four key things you need to consider when selecting a business to work with, price should not be at the top of the list.

First, you must get quality right. Can the supplier deliver a product to the standard you require? Second, do they have the capacity to deliver the quantity of product you require to your deadlines? If they can do this, then you can move to look at costs. After all, poor quality components delivered late will cost you much more in the long run, even if the initial fee was the cheapest on offer.

The fourth point you must take into consideration is service. Many businesses stop after the core three criteria, but if you leave service as an afterthought you could be left high and dry if something goes wrong. So, make sure the supplier you choose can work with you quickly if order specifics change or if an issue arises.

Build meaningful relationships

Naturally, the stronger the relationship you have with your suppliers, the better the service you receive. However, it’s difficult to develop mutual support and cooperation by placing one-off orders.

At Pailton, for example, we meet with our top-tier suppliers quarterly to share our priorities and update them on any changes to our business and to learn the same about them. This is a valuable opportunity to assess whether you are both still in tune or whether you need to amend the way you work together.

This meaningful, lasting relationship gives suppliers the confidence to invest in the tooling or labour necessary to meet your demand and encourages a higher standard of service because they know they can rely on the contract.

Don’t go it alone

Even if your purchasing team is doing all the above, it’s important that other departments are also involved in assessing new suppliers. If the component doesn’t measure up to the design team’s expectations, for example, the rest is redundant.

So, in addition to a site visit from your supply quality team to audit the processes and standards of a new supplier, make sure you provide your designers with samples of the product to test and provide feedback on.

If we’re to truly capitalise on the growth of manufacturing, we need to switch our focus from price alone. To provide our customers with high quality products, we must ensure a quality, reliable supply chain, and you can’t achieve this without building lasting supplier relationships.

Back to Engineering Capacity news page

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