Mark Aluminium Die Casting re-shores manufacturing to Wales
Whether the re-shoring of manufacturing back to the UK is a genuine phenomenon or something we’d all just like to hear about, there is certainly a strong manufacturing base still established in the country and plenty of manufacturing concerns that are growing and flourishing.
The secret, according to David Lewis of Mark Aluminium Die Casting is to be flexible, offer specialist technical support, differentiate your service, maintain high quality standards and of course, find ways to be cost competitive.
David Lewis is the Plant Manager of both Mark Aluminium Die Casting and sister company Mark Water Pumps and is passionate about manufacturing in the UK, “It is a fact of life that when we look at some the recent great success stories of British manufacturing we have Japanese, Americans, Germans and now Indians to thank for investing and helping the country reap the rewards.
“JLR is a fantastic example of successful investment in a UK brand and manufacturing, some fast and flexible management, financing and decision making releasing a huge wave of potential. All the support services and supply companies benefit, and so does the country as a whole.
“We supply water pumps to the automotive market and this includes brands such as Land Rover and Aston Martin, so we have benefitted directly. Mark Aluminium Die Casting is also part of an Indian owned manufacturing group and we make no apologies for that, on the contrary, we are cost competitive and successful, with plenty of potential for further growth.
“When we were deciding whether to base our High Pressure Aluminium Die Casting facility for the electrical and electronics market in India, or China, we also considered our Colwyn Bay facility – which in the end offered the best mix of flexibility, quality and all the transport benefits of being close to our served market, i.e. UK and Europe.
“We already had the skills potential from the team producing our huge range of automotive water pumps, plus the design, test, assembly and stock facilities here on-site. What we had to do in order to be truly flexible to our customer’s needs was work smart with our tooling in order to offset the advantages of other low cost economy markets.
“I’ve read about how pay in the Chinese economy is reaching western levels, but there will always be another emerging economy with a lower cost base. What we’ve done is work with a number of UK, EU and Far Eastern suppliers to develop tooling – the main start-up cost of a casting project – in order to offer quality tools at competitive prices that match a customer’s demands.
“Typically, Aluminium High Pressure moulding tools made by our Chinese supplier are substantially cheaper than those that we source from the UK, there are differences though, and for short lead times or very long runs where ultimate quality counts and the tooling cost is spread over a longer production run, then moulds made closer to home become more competitive.
“Our task is to match our supply to demand and this means being flexible about every area of production. We quite often manufacture product with other brands on the casting and / or the box and keep buffer stocks here ready for supplying JIT or KANBAN production line customers, or indeed aftermarket replacement parts that need to be shipped straight away to allow parts distributors to keep stock for same day deliveries to allow a repair to happen on-time.
“Ultimately we will see if our decision to re-shore our investment and grow our manufacturing business in Wales is the right move, we are currently developing a range of new products including heat sinks for LED lights and processors, impact resistant electrical enclosures and engine ancillaries for local and international customers; so the order books currently say ‘yes’ and that is the best gauge for us to use.”