You may have noticed that we recently reached out to other UK manufacturing companies and provided some tips; by writing a post about an organisation we receive support from, Chemicals Northwest.
We wanted to raise awareness of another organisation that provides support for English manufacturing SMEs, the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS). Tapping into support from MAS should be a consideration for any company looking to grow, improve processes, build supply chains and bring new products to market.
In a recent press release sent to us by MAS, they urge English manufacturers to “capitalise on the industrial resurgence in 2014” as “this is the time to deliver”.
MAS has many ideas in common with us at ReAgent about the best ways for a manufacturer to improve. This article runs through just some of the methods we use at ReAgent to grow, which also happen to be similar to the assistance that MAS provides.
English manufacturers should capitalise on the industrial resurgence in 2014. This is the time to deliver.
1. Attend Industry Events
There are events set up for UK manufacturing and chemical companies from January to December, and whilst some are members-only, lots are open to anyone in the industry.
You should be adding these valuable events to your calendar and attending whichever you think may be able to bring something to your company. Not only will more people get to hear the name of your business, but you may even get the opportunity to exhibit or present, which gives you the chance to show everyone else in the industry what you have to offer.
MAS actually holds its own free events across England, which are great for boosting skills and networking. Upcoming events that may be of use to manufacturing SMEs are ‘Social Media Marketing for Manufacturers’ and ‘Skills’.
If you can make it to these events, you should find they are educational and show you where you can enhance skills in your workplace.
2. Aim to Improve, Always
There is always somewhere within your business and processes that you can improve. Never stop looking for the tiny holes in your service and production where you can make small amendments- this will help you soar as a business.
ReAgent incorporates the idea of a lean culture; this involves eliminating waste and reducing production time and expenses in order to increase productivity and the quality of products. A lean culture also means empowering staff members at all levels to give their input where they see potential improvements, and always providing the most up-to-date training to staff so they’re as highly skilled as they can be.
In line with this is a tip from MAS; nurture your team. They say that attracting and retaining talented staff and developing their skills is vital to your future growth.
MAS promotes the idea of lean by providing English manufacturing companies with the tools to reduce waste and transform efficiency. It can also provide help with techniques such as Value Stream Mapping and Process Mapping, as well as 5S and Six Sigma.
On top of this, a massive way to improve efficiency in the workplace is with effective space utilisation. ReAgent recently knocked down a huge central platform in our factory in order to transport goods more easily. MAS advisors are available to assess the throughput of your current manufacturing processes, and can assist with improving production layout and a better use of space.
3. Build your Network
This advice does largely overlap with tip 1, but building your network involves taking bigger risks than just showing up to events and taking notes.
Travel internationally if possible, especially if you’re looking to expand to markets further afield than the UK. We recently went to Budapest in Hungary for Chemspec Europe 2014 and it was great to make some international contacts, as well as meet other UK businesses that we previously hadn’t spoken to.
Joining support networks such as MAS means you can attend events and get to know people in your industry by meeting with them regularly. Make the effort to attend networking drinks and dinners and put yourself out there by talking to people you don’t know.
Effective networking isn’t always about pushing for new customers, but it also involves getting some tips from experts in the UK manufacturing industry and even becoming somebody else’s customer, by finding some suppliers for yourself. MAS emphasises that you need confidence that your suppliers are capable and committed to meeting your demands, so don’t be afraid to look elsewhere if your current supplier isn’t doing that.
4. Improve Digitally
In this age, it’s not enough for a company to just have an effective manufacturing process; the IT and digital procedures need to be up-to-date and streamlined. This includes everything that goes on behind-the-scenes at the company, as well as the website that is presented to customers and potential customers.
MAS advises its clients on back office processes, and this article from The Guardian describes how MAS’s clients are becoming increasingly focused on making improvements in back office and admin matters.
All members of the production team at ReAgent are trained in our online logging system and we have just updated our IT and phone systems to benefit our customers. As well as this, we’re always working on ensuring our website is clean and modern, and we’re dedicated to uploading regular blogs to keep you updated about our company and the chemical industry.
This ensures we stay ahead of competitors in the same industry, many of whom still have a dated and basic website that isn’t very easy to navigate.
5. Find your Niche
Recently, ReAgent made some re-jigs to our online presence; we split our services into two separate domains to give a clearer idea of what we offer. Lots of companies in the industry sell chemicals off-the-shelf, but at ReAgent, we’re really good at blending chemical formulas to specifications and building new, unique products.
We’ve decided to put this service to the forefront of our business, so our customers can feel confident when they come to us for help with developing a new product.
MAS works with you to develop an action plan for your company, and helps you improve processes and bring new products to the market. This should give you support if you want to really zone in and focus on a specific service or product you offer, and from there you can implement some marketing for your fresh idea.
Assistance from MAS begins with a free business review and the development of an action plan tailored to address key issues. You can contact MAS on firstname.lastname@example.org or by following @mas_works on twitter.