A leading automation specialist has warned UK machinery builders that they need to protect themselves against the growing threat of the Far East replica.
Tony Hague, MD of PP Control and Automation (PP), believes firms need to act now to ‘China Proof’ their operations if they are going to maintain or increase their market share in Europe and the US.
He is calling on more companies to review their operations and look at outsourcing non-core competences as a way of reducing lead times, optimising quality and making their offer more cost effective.
“Copying some of the basic machinery processes is helping rivals in Asia deliver replica OEM machinery – in a wide range of markets - that deliver a level of performance that is typically less effective than the European manufactured models,” explained Tony.
“However, they are offering these machines at a significantly lower cost resulting in many of the end users seriously considering their purchasing options.”
He continued: “The ROI (return on investment) is still hugely important, but the gap is shortening and UK manufacturers need to take this into consideration. And the response needs to be quick.
“Complacency and lack of investment has not helped the trend. It’s time now to take back the advantage by innovating process, products and marketing.”
PP, which currently works with 12 of the world’s largest machinery builders, feel that the focus needs to fall on delivering competitive advantage to customers, whether that be through design innovation or superior quality…this in turn leads to improved machine performance, flexibility and machine “up” time for the end user.
Equally through strong design for manufacture and value engineering, the Walsall-based company can work with its clients to reduce production build times, reduce overall costs and improve lead times to the food and drink, machine tool, medical, printing, packaging and scientific instrument sectors.
“By building strong relationships, PP can review current manufacturing capabilities and look at where we can add value or take cost out of the equation. In some cases, it may just be a capacity issue that we can solve,” continued Tony.
“UK machinery builders can lay claim to strong brands, but they have to protect the gap between the difference in performance benefit versus the lower costs offered by the Far East.”
Tips to china proofing your business include:
Material costs and supplier leverage – Combining the customer’s needs with your outsourcing partner and supply chain requirements to create cost down opportunities within the bill of materials.
Technical Expertise – Harness expertise of technical partners to design innovative solutions that reduce manufacturing costs and enhance performance.
Compliance expertise – Ensure your machines are compliant to all relevant standards, especially UL and cUL when exporting to the US and North America.
Design for Manufacture (DFM) – Use production engineering skills and lean manufacturing principles to improve machine design, lower manufacturing costs and increase reliability for customers.
Production expertise – Make the most of automation for cable preparation (including crimp force monitoring technology), poke-yoke manufacturing, automated test equipment, torque tooling and six sigma principals to optimise machine performance.
Tony concluded: “Competing with Far East manufacturers of machinery is not impossible, we just need to be clever about our strengths and then invest heavily in marketing what makes us better…especially in regards to long-term return on investment.”
For further information, please visit www.ppcanda.com or follow @ppcanda on twitter.
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