Manufacturing Wales, the independent, industry led, collaborative voice for Welsh manufacturers to learn, transfer knowledge and discuss solutions recently visited the latest factory on their Industry Insight tour.
Shufflebottom, a family business based in Cross Hands, make high quality steel work and steel-framed buildings. Showcasing not only the innovations that have been made but highlighting several difficulties being faced by manufacturers currently, it gave real insight in to the current industry challenges.
From the inception by her parents, Alex Shufflebottom, Director, Shufflebottom ltd explained,
Since the management buyout in 2008, we have grown the business in some difficult circumstances. These certainly are challenging times, in the last few years alone we have all had to deal with Brexit, Covid and now the war in Ukraine, on top of the day-to-day challenges of running a manufacturing business. However, we are pleased that we currently have an order book to be very proud of. Although it is increasingly difficult to find good people, and like many sectors we need more good people, we have team to be proud of.
Bev Parker of Ministry of Furniture echoed,
It is important to share the issues we are having within our supply chain especially with costs rising by the day. Something that is a worry for us.
Access to skills came up as a real challenge, with the issues of unprepared interview attendees, or if people would turn up at all. This is the reason that ensuring we are in close dialogue with our HE and FE providers is so important, as Sarah Jeremiah, from University of South Wales explained,
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and learn more about current industry challenges. The option to review the steel fabrication process was insightful and it helped put processes into context.
Heather Anstey-Myers, CEO Manufacturing Wales said,
What is really clear is that many manufacturers are facing similar problems, fragile supply chains, finding people who want to work in manufacturing, from welders, fabricators, machine operators, forklift drivers, draughtsmen, administrators to name a few, there is a shortage in almost every area. Add to this rising energy costs, price fluctuations on imports affected by rising transport costs, foreign exchange rates, rising payroll costs, UK tariffs on some materials, and uncertainty as a result of the war in Ukraine, all of these make trying to provide fixed prices to customers almost impossible.
Manufacturing Wales creates the platform for conversations which means Welsh manufacturers are helping each other by sharing ideas and in the process supporting each other to find solutions to increase productivity and reduce costs.
The coming together of leading manufacturers to discuss the range of challenges and how these have been overcome offers a real insight into the sectors. Recognising that the future will be created by the industry for the industry, the benefits of coming together to talk are invaluable.
For further information about Manufacturing Wales membership contact [email protected]