Five Benefits of Design and Manufacturing in the UK

13 / 10 / 2017

Peter van der Kolk CEO John Cullen Lighting
‘’I believe that using design and manufacturing based in the UK has given our company key strategic advantages.’’

For over 35 years John Cullen Lighting have understood the value of keeping its manufacturing partners close to home. Over the years there has been a trend in the industry to sub-contract manufacturing outside the UK, typically moving to Far East and Eastern Europe. However, John Cullen Lighting is a good example of how local manufacturing can work and be strategically advantageous.

Design for Manufacturing – product efficiency

With over 25 years of business experience, I have been involved in several sub-contract manufacturing projects across the globe. Manufacturing abroad can come with perceived cost savings, however it also comes with a set of additional challenges that are often underestimated. Challenges can include language skills, lack of regulatory know-how, quality assurance, time zone differences, international shipments and reacting to changes. I am not saying it is impossible to have sub-contract manufacturing abroad, yet if for example the wrong shipment is made from the Far East, or the quality assurance of the incoming goods is not satisfactory, then it typically takes a lot to correct

Rowan manufacturing in the UK

Business agility – reacting quickly to changes and getting it right the first time

Within the UK, product design teams and manufacturing teams can also work much closer together enabling an iterative process whereby we strive to get the product right the first time.

Cost efficiency – be smart with how you save costs

Cost efficiency does not come by putting e.g. an SMT (surface mount technology) manufacturing machine abroad, as this machine will have the same capital expenditure compared to a UK manufacturer as well a Chinese manufacturer. However, the real cost savings come from smart procurement of the critical components and raw materials. By closely integrating the design process with its manufacturing process, it is possible to find savings through commonality of components, thus create economies of scale. Furthermore, by working in close partnership it is possible to align the design process with its manufacturing process, thus achieving efficiency in manufacturing.

Collaborative partnerships – generate intellectual property

Another positive deliverable has been that by having our design teams collaborating closely with our UK manufacturing partners, we have been able to create Intellectual Property (IPR).  From securing registered designs through to patents, this ensures that our products are protected from appearance through to functionality.

Corporate Social Responsibility – support young talent in Britain

Another aspect is that designing in the UK helps contribute to our strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) objective of supporting young talent. One practical example includes working with Brunel University students in Product Design. Each year we employ an undergraduate on their year in industry to work in our product design department.  This not only benefits the student but also brings fresh ideas to the company.  An example of this is the Carella made Cara Garraway.

In summary, my manufacturing experience has taught me that SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise) businesses can actually run far more effectively by keeping manufacturing in the UK. Manufacturing challenges may still occur, however by keeping the manufacturing close to home, it is possible to be more agile and resolve issues much quicker.

Take a look at our wide range of products made in Britain.


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