Manufacturers demand long-term industrial strategy

A Midlands manufacturing collective has urged the Government to make its ‘restart, reposition and transform’ commitment to industry a reality and not just another marketing slogan.

Alucast in Wednesbury is one of the 10 companies behind the manifesto
Alucast in Wednesbury is one of the 10 companies behind the manifesto

The Manufacturing Assembly Network, which employs more than 2,000 people across nine sub-contract manufacturers and a specialist engineering design agency, has launched its Post Covid-19 'MANifesto' to detail the support the sector needs if it is to recover from the pandemic and restore its position as a manufacturing powerhouse in the 21st Century.

Signed by managing directors from the 10 companies, the 10-point plan focuses on the development of a coherent cross-party industrial strategy and a commitment to reshoring that will help build the domestic capability and supply chain so the UK can produce critical components and life-saving equipment.

It also calls on more dedicated manufacturing support, introduction of immediate stimulus packages for critical industries and sustainable investment to help with the transition to the ‘green economy’ and the transport revolution.

Adam Cunningham, chairman of MAN and chief executive of Muller Holdings in Cleobury Mortimer, said: “Whilst there is a real possibility of an economic downturn, the pandemic has underlined the importance of having a resilient domestic supply chain that can produce vital, often life-saving equipment in times of national crisis.

“This renewed shift towards ‘making things’ has gained momentum with the Chancellor and many economic experts calling for sustained investment in industry so we can build capacity and maximise our world leading design, innovation and quality.”

Mr Cunningham added: “We have been here before and we’ve heard politicians wheel out empty promises because it seems like the right thing to say. Well not this time, the MANifesto has been created by 10 small abd medium-sized enterprises that cover more than 15 sectors and have a real appreciation for the challenges we are facing, but equally importantly the massive opportunities that exist with the right backing.

“We want Government to listen to and work with SMEs who are at the coalface to ensure UK manufacturing thrives again and is self-reliant wherever possible. In short, there can be no capacity in the modern-day supply chain without a healthy and vibrant SME base.”

The MANifesto includes the development of a coherent cross-party industrial strategy policy that separates job creation from productivity, a commitment to support reshoring by subsidising overseas investment/ trade and ensuring the majority of Government infrastructure spend is ring-fenced for the UK, continued investment in innovation and academic/industrial collaborations and additional funding towards tailored Manufacturing support programmes.

MAN also wants a coherent plan and investment strategy to maximise the opportunities around healthcare and the transport revolution and a commitment to the transition to the ‘green economy’ and net zero emissions.

The group is made up of Alucast in Wednesbury, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, C-MAC SMT, Grove Design, James Lister & Sons in Smethwick, Old Hill's KimberMills International, Muller Holdings, Cheslyn Hay's PP Control & Automation and Ricor, with Warwick Manufacturing Group providing academic expertise, knowledge transfer and access to state-of-the-art technology.

Together, the collective offers a single-source solution to supply chain issues, providing access to castings, contract electronics, design, electrical assembly, forging, hydraulics, injection moulding, machining, PCB manufacture, pneumatics, high volume pressings/stampings and tube manipulation.

It employs more than 2000 people across 21 factories, boasting nearly £150m of annual sales and export orders to more than 35 countries.

Tony Sartorius, chairman of Alucast and a founding member of MAN, said: “We have a real opportunity to shape manufacturing for the next few decades if the Government is brave enough to listen to manufacturers and pay us more than just the obligatory lip service.

“UkmfgUnite, a website run by manufacturers for manufacturers, has launched to find ways to retain production here and to support reshoring…in just a few weeks it has more than 250 members and is generating lots of contracts.

“Yes, times are tough post Covid-19 and the first focus is on getting us back on track, but why stop there? We have outstanding firms, outstanding talent and a new-found public desire to see things being made in this country again. It’s time to seize the moment.”

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