On the rise

All over the world, manufacturers and their customers are facing numerous challenges, including the impact of Coronavirus, global supply chain disruption, rising oil and gas prices, war in Ukraine and a changing political landscape.

With some overseas companies closing or significantly delaying their work, UK manufacturers are re-evaluating their business strategy. There is a growing trend to reshore manufacturing, by sourcing and producing materials within domestic borders, instead of globally.

This is not something that can be done overnight, as global production has become the norm and most manufacturers rely on products and materials from all over the world. But with mindful steps and strong cooperative trading partnerships with credible suppliers, these changes are possible.

There are a number of advantages including shorter production lead times, movement of product becoming less of an obstacle, shipping costs decreased, and a potential to reduce your logistics carbon footprint. It also removes time zone issues, which can create communication problems, if you are working with companies on the other side of the world. All these benefits lead to improved service levels and also creates opportunities for manufacturers to invest in improved equipment, labor and processes.

Stock control strategies and quality assurance
Procurement managers should be revising their lead time expectation when considering their stock management and procurement strategies. Extended global lead times gives cause for greater domestic stock holdings. For some this is not a viable option and UK manufacturing is one solution which can significantly reduce lead times, and therefore the need for excessive safety buffer stocks. Leaving less capital tied up in stock, enables business to be more dynamic.

The global disruption over the past 18-24 months has not only caused companies to rethink how they buy, but what they buy. SKU (stock keeping unit) proliferation was a symptom of a bygone age of comparatively easy trading conditions. Today, managing an extensive range of SKUs all of which are variations of a theme, presents unnecessary headaches and can reduce the efficiency, flexibility, and profitability of a company’s operations.

Perhaps more pronounced in the GNFR (goods not for resale) sector, purchasing managers are often more interested in continuity of supply of a reliable quality product with variety and even price being a secondary consideration. To address this issue, Cromwell underwent a comprehensive consolidation exercise across its core stock range. Our efforts have ensured larger quantities of a leaner, market-leading offering are available at competitive pricing.

UK manufacturing complements this move by offering those with very specific requirements the option to source smaller quantities of made-to-order product without the extensive lead times now affecting European and far Eastern imports.

When sourcing from a UK manufacturer you are supporting local skilled employment and investment in British self-sufficiency. In Cromwell’s case it also means boosting the UK’s domestic recycling of LDPE (low density polyethylene) flexible films with our Polythene Recovery Service (PRS) and in-house recycling plant.

Environmental credentials
Monitoring and reducing our impact on the ‘environment’ or more specifically, global climate and our local environment, is becoming increasingly important to British business. On-shoring UK manufacturing for domestic supply can help reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing global freight of finished product.

We understand the importance of sustainable business practices, which is why we are committed to the supply of mostly recycled packaging film, and sacks for the waste management sectors. No other material can compete with plastics in terms of resource efficiency across the supply chain and product life-cycle. Efforts must be maintained in reducing excessive over-use, re-using plastic where appropriate, and, of course, recycling it once it has served its purpose.

Working directly with UK manufacturers gives you more control over the environmental impact of the products you buy, not to mention some peace of mind.

Cromwell’s manufacturing division has signed up to Operation Clean Sweep (OCS), putting measures in place to prevent plastic pollution entering water courses. We have also committed to the British Plastics Federation (BPF) climate pact for which we must find seven percent energy savings year-on-year, driving investment in more energy efficient machinery and processes.

The Plastic Packaging Tax, introduced from 1 April 2022 and Extended Producer Responsibility in a few years’ time will be key drivers to reducing excess and unnecessary packaging whilst driving demand for higher recycled content. Organizations should engage with their suppliers to check whether their products are affected by the plastic packaging tax or not. Those products containing less than 30 percent recycled content will see an additional £200.00/ton added to the cost of their materials. v

For a list of the sources used in this article, please contact the editor


Alex Lee
Alex Lee is Commercial Director of Cromwell Polythene, an independent, family-run business specializing in the production, supply and distribution of polythene and compostable products. It’s UK manufacturing and recycling site, CPR Manufacturing Ltd, has increased the group’s capacity to recover and reprocess scrap polythene, furthering its ambitions to stimulate the circular economy of resources.