British manufacturing expertise has long been considered among the best in the world, a reputation gained through hard work and innovation. However, with the mixed fortunes of Brexit featuring prominently in management thinking, now might be a good time to re-double our efforts.
Paul Hannah, Business Development Director at Klarius Products, explains what the UK’s largest aftermarket emissions manufacturer is doing to improve efficiency and safeguard profitability on behalf of itself and Britain plc.
Klarius Products operations are consolidated onto one 11 acre site, the company headquarters in Cheadle. The facility contains everything from a recently expanded R&D department to a cutting edge manufacturing facility, a vast warehouse containing over 100,000 items of stock, a national logistics operation, a machine tool repair and build workshop and an in-house VCA approved test track. In-house facilities and operational independence gives the business the agility to react quickly to customer demands and take advantage of opportunities.
By unifying all of our business functions on one site, we achieve leaner business processes, which reduces costs and time to market for new products; both of which improve competitiveness. Our focus on quality is also absolute, so our in-house testing facilities are of particular importance. We type-approve all of our products, the EU standard for quality and emissions, and test fit every design on vehicles of the correct make, model and year.
By managing all of our processes and testing in-house, we can release products to market that can be sold in the UK and abroad without any issues. The EU represents a big export market for us and we will always match the standards required to sell in that market. The lower value of the Pound Sterling is currently helping the cost competitiveness of our exports, much like the Euro does for Germany. This is great news, but what we really don’t want is additional red-tape and import tariffs to appear when we sell into the European Union.
Strong exports mean that we have the cash to re-invest in the business. One of the most important policies we have within the company is continual investment: especially in manufacturing. Standing still is simply not an option in a global marketplace. For example, Klarius has recently expanded its research and development department to keep pace with the continual demand to develop new parts for market. Similarly, investment in machinery and manufacturing hardware is substantial and ongoing. With the number of vehicles on UK roads growing, reinvestment allows the company to not only expand its expertise and improve quality, but also provide a better service to customers by keeping pace with automotive developments.
Investment is not simply confined to physical assets. Investment in the workforce is also of paramount importance. Klarius, being a UK based company, we offer a wide range of apprenticeships, training for staff and new opportunities for a skilled workforce to join and progress.
Investing in the workforce is something we are passionate about, from skilled welders and machine operators, to machine designers, sales and management teams – we invest throughout the organisation. As a self-sufficient manufacturer we can offer increased job security to our employees. Our commitment to the area also allows us to see the results of our work in the local community, offering more opportunities while also raising the value of the area.
We also provide a huge amount of external training for our customers and garage technicians across the country. Our technician training courses are delivered in association with top training body the IMI. Not only does this improve awareness of our products, but it increases the skills base of Britain plc, which is great news for everyone.
Contrary to many businesses who outsource everything they can to low-cost economies outside of the UK, we keep the skills, the investment and the profits we make in the UK. If we are to benefit from the changes happening as a result of Brexit then we must have a strong manufacturing base, otherwise we will end up importing everything and exporting the profits to other economies. It sounds corny, but we must buy-British, be proud of our heritage and continue to build a better industrial base in this country.