Are your suppliers part of the solution or part of the problem when it comes to driving growth, reducing your costs and helping you manufacture more?
British manufacturing is going through a period of significant change and faces a number of key challenges through 2018, explains Dave Darby, Sales & Marketing Director at MSC Industrial Supply.
The uncertainty around Brexit continues;
The need for product development and innovation has increased;
A widespread skills shortage across the industry;
An increased need to manage costs in an uncertain period.
This has prompted many forward-thinking manufacturing companies to re-evaluate their supply base and ask some searching questions. Having a supplier that is efficient and price competitive is no longer the main driver.
They are looking for suppliers that they can trust, a supplier that is an extension of their business. They are looking for suppliers that can help transform how they operate. They are looking for 'trusted partners' to help them achieve their full potential, to grow faster, drive down costs, get to market faster and become more profitable.
As a consequence, suppliers to UK manufacturing have to adapt and be seen as trusted partners, where they are part of the solution to many of the challenges that manufacturers face today.
Uncertainty around Brexit
There is no magic answer to this, however what we have seen with several successful organisations is the willingness to adapt in an uncertain environment. Many manufacturing organisations are now focusing on two key areas:
Business Agility - manufacturers will need to diversify and look for different ways to strengthen their order books. Many manufacturers that we work with, due to the uncertain economic climate, have been forced to rethink their strategy, to become more innovative, to think differently, to move into new markets, to optimise their supply chain and are now looking at their supply base very differently. We have also seen that employee engagement and retention has increased in importance. Their people are understandably nervous about the future and seek reassurance. They need regular communication and want to be part of the future development of the organisation. It is critical that manufacturing businesses keep hold of their workforce during an uncertain time especially with a UK wide skills shortage.
Supplier Engagement - again as with employee engagement and retention it is important that manufacturers have the right suppliers in place that can support their business during the highs and lows through the Brexit period. As mentioned many forward-thinking manufacturers are now looking for suppliers that can adapt and evolve to meet their ever-changing needs. They are looking for a trusted partner, a partner that can help them improve the way they operate, someone that they can deeply trust, a supplier that can become an extension of their business.
Product development and innovation
We operate in a demanding 'consumer' driven environment which means that product development and innovation is moving at pace. Being first to market or at least fast to market is all important. We are seeing many manufacturers adopt a continuous improvement approach which becomes engrained within their culture. As manufacturers develop new products, look for innovative ways to improve their operations and diversify their product and service portfolio, they are now looking to their suppliers to do more than just keep up, they are looking for suppliers to help them lead!
One of the biggest barriers to manufacturing growth is the chronic lack of skills within the UK, especially in the engineering world. The skills shortage is a problem we are hearing more and more from the industry and is a real concern when businesses are looking to develop and grow. Their teams are busy with their day jobs and keeping their customers happy, so how are they also expected to seek innovation when they don't have time or resources available? Again, this places an added responsibility onto the supply base who should be aware of the challenge and provide innovative solutions accordingly. For example, suppliers of engineering consumable items should also be set up to provide technical expertise which leads to driving cost out of the business, streamlines the operation and bolsters any skills gap that may exist.
We are now seeing a number of manufacturing businesses re-evaluate their supply chain practices. The focus initially is on 'direct' procurement (items that go into the end product) which makes sense, many organisations now have clever procurement practices set up to manage their strategically important purchases for planned, forecastable, items. However, studies have shown that 80% of the effort, time, cost and stress comes from 'indirect' procurement which typically only relates to 20% of the spend ('indirect' refers to tooling and industrial consumables that keep the factory running e.g. maintenance, repair and operational items - MRO). Unplanned, indirect purchases are particularly difficult to control and manage, those items that are only ordered on an infrequent basis.
A disproportionate amount of time is often spent on sourcing these items which adds significant cost to a business.
So how do you plan for the unplanned? In short, you don't - you look to your supply base to do that for you. Clever manufacturing companies are now identifying trusted supply partners for their unplanned, indirect product needs. They are rationalising their supply base down to a few trusted partners who have the capabilities to supply the long tail of consumable items. They are looking for the supplier to provide the data that helps them reduce their consumption and improve their overall profitability. Many manufacturers have realised that shopping around for the best price (the typical three quote process) is a costly exercise and results in too many low value orders being placed and too many suppliers to manage that add no benefit to their organisation.
We will be operating in an uncertain world for some time to come due to Brexit, financial turmoil, and the widespread skills shortages, which will place further demands on manufacturers. However, more and more manufacturers are telling us that it's not all doom and gloom and in fact the uncertain economic climate has forced them to rethink their strategy, to become more innovative, to think differently, to diversify into new markets, to optimise their supply chain and to look at their supply base very differently.
So, I would encourage all manufacturing businesses to ask the question; 'are my suppliers part of the solution or part of the problem?'
We are pleased to announce that MSC are finalists in two categories in the UK Customer Satisfaction Awards presented by The Institute of Customer Service (ICS). These awards include the Employee Engagement Strategy of the Year and Best Return on Customer Service Investment.
The Employee Engagement Strategy of the Year Award demonstrates organisations that have an Employee Engagement strategy that has led to an improvement in performance and customer satisfaction.
Our focus and dedication to engaging our associates has been embedded into our updated business strategy. Here at MSC, we are known as associates, not employees as we work together as a partner or colleague. As part of our Employee Engagement Strategy our cross-functional Engagement Champions were born, who on a day-to-day basis channel new ideas and suggestions. Leading to the introduction of our long service tree and our associate word cloud describing what our associates love about working at MSC; consolidating our already strong Culture and set of Values through a group desire to achieve.
Our Associate Net Promoter Score (NPS) was tracking at the mid 30's prior to our engagement strategy being implemented, now our NPS score is at 72. This translates into our Customer satisfaction score now standing at 89.1, distinction level, a direct reflection that our engagement has changed the way we do business. Other finalists in this category are; Marks and Spencer, Electricity North West, N Brown, Countrywide Conveyancing Services, HomeServe, Power NI, Bupa, Barclays and British Transport Police.
Penny Davies, Human Resources Director explains "Since the implementation of our engagement strategy, an integral part of our business strategy, we have improved the happiness of our associates. Keeping our associates motivated and driven to perform encourages them to stay with the business as people become more skilled and more knowledgeable, enabling us to give even better service and support to our customers."
MSC are also finalists in the Best Return on Customer Service Investment Award highlights organisations that have made investments in customer service which has resulted in a return on investment. We are committed to providing a seamless customer service therefore, we enhanced our phone and email system to be a more multi-channel approach. By upskilling our associates and updating our systems, they are empowered to deliver the best customer journey. Thus, our customers are guaranteed the same level of service regardless of how they contact us.
This is reflected in how satisfied our customers have rated us on our email and phone experience at 89.5 for phone and 89.4 for our emails. Now we complete over 90% of emails within 1 hour. In comparison to the industry standard of same day this speed of response means we are easy to do business with saving our customers time to focus on moving their business forward. Other finalists in this category are Centria, Knightstone and Marks & Spencer.
The ICS acknowledges organisations and individuals that have implemented successful customer service strategies who are then judged by industry experts, business leaders and academics. These prestigious awards will be presented to the winning companies on March 6th, 2018 in London so let's cross our fingers for a win!
Being a finalist validates MSC's continual dedication to delivering the best in class service, becoming trusted advisors to our customers and supporting them to move their business forward.
We're pleased to announce we've sponsored Hawk Racing - motorsport engineers of the future, who have registered their team with F1 In Schools Ltd.
Hawk Racing, Year 12 students from Colyton Grammar School Academy have joined the challenge to design, construct and race the fastest formula one car of the future, powered by compressed air cylinders following the same process as a real Formula One team. Last year, the team were placed 7th nationally in the Professional Class, and were nominated for best research and design with high hopes to build on their success this year.
As part of our sponsorship the MSC brand will take pride of place on the car, uniforms, pit display, within their portfolio and will be promoted on all social media platforms. This means, over the next 12 months, our MSC logo will be amongst prestigious brands including; Redbull Racing, Ferrari, Williams Racing, Sauber F1 Team and McLaren Honda.
F1 in Schools Ltd delivers an exciting, yet challenging practical Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) international competition.
With one of the biggest barriers to manufacturing growth being the chronic lack of skills, it's important we acknowledge this and support future initiatives that aim to close the skills gap. This sponsorship also shows our commitment to backing the next generation of motorsport engineers.
Having a British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) accreditation means MSC only supplies certified and tested safety products you can trust the safety products you are buying from us are fit for purpose.
Becoming BSIF accredited demonstrates MSC's dedication to ensuring all safety equipment we offer meets the appropriate standards to fully comply with the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) regulations and is correctly CE marked. As all products have a recorded trail back to the manufacturer and all products meet industry requirements, as your trusted partner, you can be assured your business will not be supplying products which could cause the business to be fined or penalised.
The BSIF is the lead association for PPE and is recognised as a Competent Authority by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). The BSIF is firmly established as the major independent voice of the British safety industry, helping to both impact legislation and provide a source of influential information on a range of workplace safety issues. As a result, all PPE must be correctly tested and certified to meet the appropriate European standard. To help combat this, the BSIF has created the Registered Safety Supplier (RSS) scheme.
Remember, by using us a Registered Safety Supplier you can be sure you will only be supplied with genuine, appropriately approved product and you will receive trusted advice.
Why not take a look at our extensive range of PPE products covering you from head to toe.
Evolve your business with our 3D printer range
Recently exhibited at The Northern Manufacturing Show, our 3D printer range is now available to order. From the classroom to the workshop, aerospace to medicine we have a model that suits your business and can reduce lead times and costs, getting your product to market faster.
3D printers empower you to create realistic prototypes, models and products - whatever you can imagine, you can print.
To learn why 3D printing is useful everywhere and view our extensive range - Click here.
UK's largest meeting place for engineering professionals
Meet MSC at the Advanced Engineering show, stand N53, to learn more about how we will save you time and money by transforming the way you operate. Speak with our local North team and learn more about our vending solution tailored to reducing your fast moving consumables consumption by 25-40%.
We speak to or visit hundreds of businesses like yours every day and we understand what you need, which is why we are passionate about providing a market-leading customer experience and quality products tailored to the manufacturing sector.
Advanced Engineering brings together five co locating show zones and is the UK's largest free-to-attend engineering Conference programme. It's a must-attend event for the manufacturing world and is where the supply chain meets with engineering and procurement decision makers from OEMs and top tier organisations spanning: Aerospace; Automotive; Motorsport; Marine, Civil Engineering, and more.
MSC continues to be a product sponsor for BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car, a unique high-technology project to design and build a car that will break the 1,000mph barrier and set a new world land speed record. Enjoy a fantastic day out and be one of the first in the world to see, hear and feel the BLOODHOUND SSC blast down the 1.7 mile long runway at Cornwall Airport Newquay.
Designed and constructed in the UK, BLOODHOUND SSC includes components and sponsorship from many companies, including MSC and will make its record attempt in South Africa. Prior to this attempt, BLOODHOUND SSC will be test driven for the first time, at Cornwall Airport Newquay, 26th October 2017. Tickets to witness an unique moment in history at its first public viewing in Cornwall on 28th October 2017 are now on sale and you can save £5 by visiting the following link: BLOODHOUND SSC Tickets.
We are delighted to be a part of this international engineering adventure, that is not only inspiring generations globally but like MSC are powering performance to deliver excellence.
MSC raises £393 for charity
MSC has been getting involved to raise money for Breast Cancer Care, a UK wide charity providing care, information and support to people affected by breast cancer. With cases of breast cancer significantly on the rise, every penny counts to keep the vital helpline free and give people the specialist information they need, when they need it most.
Penny Davies, HR Director explained "The cake sale was a huge success. MSC is proud to support local charities and we'd like to thank everyone for their generosity and kindness."
We're proud to say we have helped by raising £393 with a cake sale. Thank you to Linda from 4 Steps to a Smile for getting us involved!
Charity cake sale for Breast Cancer Care.
MSC Industrial Supply recognised at the UK Customer Satisfaction Awards 2017
MSC's dedication to delivering a high quality, reliable service has long been the driving force for their customers to improve processes, increase efficiencies and get to market faster. This approach has now been recognised by the Institute of Customer Services, with MSC being shortlisted in an exclusive group of finalists, for the award 'Customer Satisfaction Innovation'.
This highlights organisations that instigated a new and innovative way of improving its customer satisfaction ratings.
The Institute of Customer Services awards recognise organisations and individuals that have implemented successful customer service strategies. Companies from across the UK were judged by industry experts, business leaders and academics.
It is MSC's industry leading approach to supporting customer success that really stood out. One of the key differentiators MSC provide to its customers is the provision of technical support. This ranges from product advice and information up to hands-on engineering consultancy. This offering separates MSC from its competition and enables them to become business partners with many customers. MSC was able to demonstrate how they improved customer satisfaction through this support and their upgraded CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) software that is combined with specialist engineering knowledge. This ultimately saves time and money for the customer by increasing efficiencies and therefore improving overall satisfaction.
The results were announced at a gala ceremony in London on the 7th of March 2017. Jo Camm, Customer Experience Director at MSC commented "The Institute of Customer Services received hundreds of applications for this award and we are extremely proud and honoured to be shortlisted alongside blue-chip companies such as Barclays, BMW Group, Intu, National Express and eventual winners, Claims Consortium Group."
Being finalists validates MSC's ongoing commitment to delivering best in class service, becoming trusted advisors to their customers and helping them to grow their businesses.
Awards Night: Nadine Taylor, Naga Munchetty, Matt Harper and Jo Camm.
MSC Industrial Supply achieves the latest ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems standard ahead of schedule
Whether it's searching for the right product, offering expertise or fulfilling an order, MSC takes commitment to quality very seriously. MSC has built reliable and measurable processes to make sure its products and services provide exceptional value that help our customers drive greater productivity, profitability and growth.
After months of hard work and dedication, MSC is pleased to announce they have achieved the latest ISO 9001:2015 standard. This global standard means you can trust that the items you order from MSC are handled, packed and shipped properly and arrive the way you expect.
This achievement ensures suppliers and customers can have the confidence in knowing that MSC is consistently meeting high standards and delivering best in class service.
Mike Almond, Managing Director at MSC commented: "We're delighted to have been accredited to ISO 9001: 2015 Certification. Our aim has always been to maintain our high standards of quality for our customers. As a value-led business it's a huge achievement to be recommended for this certification ahead of the required timeframe. Having accomplished this transition so far in advance of the recommended timeline also separates us from other national competitors."
The new ISO 9001:2015 standard is based on a number of quality management principles, including a strong customer focus, the motivation and involvement of top management, the process approach and continual improvement. The key changes in the new standard provide a greater emphasis on leadership, objectives, performance measurement and change, with a focus on risk management. MSC demonstrates these principles through statistical quality control and reporting, product inspections, order validation in packing and shipping and have a quality assurance team that has the education, training and dedication to continuously raise the bar on quality for all customers. To stay head of the curve, MSC also conduct regular training, development and continual education in a wide range of disciplines.
MSC's relentless commitment to providing a 'best in class' service is another way they are extending the value delivered to their customers. With this new standard in place, customers can rely on MSC to always have their passion for success at the core of everything they do.
Mike Almond, Managing Director at MSC.
Get your hands on the new MSC Big Book catalogue
It's the one you have all been waiting for... MSC has launched its new Big Book catalogue and like the products it features, the 2016 catalogue is a 'must have' for anyone who buys industrial metalworking and MRO products. It has over 300 new pages of products and brands, new to MSC, which are guaranteed to transform how you work. With over 10,000 new products added our product offering just got bigger and better. The catalogue now also features firm favourites such as Iscar, Ceratizit, Dormer Pramet, Fluke, Houghton and Metabo.
Managing Director, Michael Almond says: "This is our best catalogue yet because it brings together over 90,000 products across metalworking, maintenance, repair and operational needs, making us the one stop shop for any industrial buyer. At MSC we also understand how imperative it is for today's engineers to access items in a way that suits them best. We have listened to feedback from our customers and have invested in the development of our website improving the search functionality and the overall user experience. Our website enables our customer base to gain access to the full MSC product range of over 120,000 items, the majority of which are available next day. Placing orders via the MSC website has never been easier and will save our customers valuable time and money."
Doing business with MSC couldn't be easier. We passionately believe the importance of UK industry and exist to help you fuel your potential and get to market faster. There's no need to put up with back orders or machine downtime when dealing with MSC. Our world class customer service and award winning delivery service won't let you down. We are committed to providing you with a unique customer experience which is backed by our service mark accreditation with the Institute of Customer Service. Get your hands on the new MSC Big Book catalogue now and you won't be disappointed.
Power of partnership drives down costs
When Lancashire based precision engineering company, Erlson Precision Components, wanted to improve stock control, technical support and procurement, it turned to MSC Industrial Supply to help develop a partnership driven solution, aimed at increasing business efficiency and performance.
As a specialist manufacturer of highly engineered components and assemblies, Erlson work to the tightest dimensional tolerances on a diverse range of demanding automotive and specialist engineering applications, including turbochargers, fuel delivery and fluid power systems.
The company originally began working with MSC Industrial Supply to support its manufacturing operation 75,000sq.ft. in Skelmersdale during 2006, relying on the vast product range, resources and logistics expertise of the company with a turnover of $2.8 billion company, which has its UK headquarters, in the West Midlands.
MSC is a leading distributor of metalworking and MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) products, as well as supply chain solutions carrying product inventory of more than 90,000 items to help support a diverse range of businesses.
When business began to accelerate for Erlson in 2014, so did their need for a trusted supply partner. Like any business it was important for Erlson to develop, concentrate on its manufacturing expertise and remain competitive and responsive to their customers. Their Technical Director, Mark Corns recognised that he needed to concentrate the efforts of his production team onto manufacturing and core functions and away from product sourcing, suppliers and inventory management. Mark recognised that he needed a supply partner to manage these aspects.
The first step in this development was to review their supply chain and identify the relationships that were critical to improving efficiency. Clearly, the strong existing relationship with MSC proved to be an essential factor when choosing a partner to meet their business needs. MSC had proven extensive capabilities in product sourcing, inventory management and technical expertise.
Erlson faced two main challenges. The first was the limited amount of time and manpower available to monitor tool usage and on hand inventory, while the second was ensuring that they had appropriate technical support available to develop their business. But overall, Erlson knew that they needed to optimise their purchasing process if they were going to save time to concentrate on their manufacturing expertise.
Given these critical requirements, Erlson was keen to explore the opportunities offered by MSC's ControlPoint vending solution, which allows easy access to tooling when required whilst also providing integrated stock control mechanisms and monitoring of tool usage.
Erlson introduced MSC ControlPoint across multiple factories in February 2015. Erlson also had an MSC on site stores person dedicated to working on site 3 days a week to manage the stores for them. Lloyd Rosser, MSC Commercial Director commented, "MSC were thrilled to be awarded the supply contract with Erlson. We have worked with Erlson for many years and view ourselves as part of their team. Erlson see how our inventory and solutions can aid them in their long term goals and we are absolutely committed to delivering them a best in class supply chain."
MSC ControlPoint guarantees a reduction in tooling consumption and Erlson have started to see the results of this already. This is achieved through precise stock management and reporting capabilities which are one of the main reasons it was chosen by Erlson. This solution meant that not only would stock be readily available to their workers 24/7, but would also be replenished by MSC so they would never be out of stock or lose valuable machining time.
Erlson's security and reporting options also improved. As a result of the ControlPoint secure booking out function; Erlson can retrieve regular reports showing what tools are being used by each machine operator and on what job, which shows how much a job has cost them in tooling.
This kind of information is invaluable to Erlson. Being able to identify what is being used where and how often is a key aspect of driving productivity in any manufacturing environment, as it improves accountability and can flag any process that may not be efficient. With complete visibility, businesses like Erlson can stay in control over how each team consumes tooling and supplies.
The second key element for Erlson was working with MSC's team of experienced technical engineers and their three step process to application optimisation. The MSC team solves problems for metalworking customers, just like Erlson, every week. The process begins with a survey of current operations. MSC then collect the data on each machining operation from start to finish. The second step involves Erlson and MSC's Technical teams collaborating with each other and suppliers to establish the best recommendation and approach, trials, tests and ultimately improving the manufacturing process. The last and final stage is working closely with the customer, to capture and document the cost savings.
This expert technical support plays an important part in the relationship between MSC and Erlson. MSC Project Engineers work alongside the company and are dedicated to attending weekly engineering meetings at Erlson. This not only brings the partnership closer together but allows the wider team to discuss the on-going cost savings plan, in which there are currently 33 projects in progress.
This technical engineering support coupled with MSCs Controlpoint solution is a real asset to Erlson. It has allowed them to concentrate on their manufacturing expertise as they continue to offer a professional supply of solutions to their most innovative and demanding customers.
For MSC it's not just about providing a solution that meets the need of stock availability, they understand the importance of aftercare. MSC provide support all the way and have a whole team dedicated to servicing customers, like Erlson, after the solution has been implemented. This includes training, on site MSC representatives, unlimited technical support and quarterly business reviews to ensure objectives are being met. MSC pride themselves in offering an impeccable customer experience in which Erlson has experienced first-hand. Mark Corns, Erlson's Technical Director explains, "It was imperative that Erlson concentrated its efforts on our manufacturing process. Our selection process led us to the conclusion that MSC was our best choice to deliver an exceptional supply chain solution. MSC's engineering capabilities are also unique for us as a tooling buyer and the benefits they are delivering are clear for all to see at Erlson."
More than a tooling supplier
Many top UK manufacturers count on MSC every day, not just for Metalworking and MRO supplies but for many other services and solutions. The MSC Engineering Team is just one of the many unique value added services offered as a distributor.
MSC Industrial Supply Co has been established in the UK since 1984 and until 2006 was previously known as J&L Industrial Supply Co. The company has been providing customers with successful engineering support for twenty years. These highly qualified engineers have a combined experience of over 200 years and are praised by many customers for their exceptional level of technical ability. One of those customers is Bromford Industries who provide a wide range of components and assemblies for aero and marine gas turbines, aircraft landing gear, static gas generators, nuclear and specialist engineering applications.
Lee Hodgson, Programme Manager at Bromford Industries in Leicester explains "The level of support we receive by the MSC Engineering Team is very good. We have worked together on many cost reduction activities through cheaper tooling and process changes. The technical support available, when we require it, has given Bromford the ability to react to customer demands and progress quickly and efficiently on our projects."
MSC are approached on a daily basis by customers, from many different industries, who face engineering challenges. These could include selecting the right product for the application and cost and cycle time reductions.
The MSC Engineering Team is not brand loyal, they emphasise best tool practice. Whether the goal is productivity or cost avoidance, the engineers are focused on the customers' objectives. This may result in substantial cost savings or product rationalisation/ consolidation. The MSC Engineers are project focussed and are targeted on cost savings for the customer only.
Lee also explains "I have worked closely with the MSC team now for many years. They have been very good at delivering cost saving initiatives and always support them with good reliable data so the benefits can be easily understood."
Since the MSC Engineering Team has been in place, MSC have supported many customers, just like Bromford, making cost savings and improving processes. In total, MSC have saved customers over Millions on a mixture of both hard and soft cost savings.
Other services offered to MSC customers include CAD CAM / 3D Modelling for cost saving and project work, technical advice and support, special tooling design, tooling packages, product recommendations and MSC's application optimisation process. This particular solution analyses the machining process, collects data from start to finish and allows MSC's Engineering Team to make recommendations based on their findings. These may be simple adjustments to speeds and feeds or a complete new approach to the manufacturing process. The team will always work closely with the customer and document the results.
If it's a one off challenge or on-going support, the MSC Engineering Team will provide reports indicating true cost savings. The MSC customers can then see the benefits, just like Bromford Industries, of working with a distributor who are more than just a tooling supplier.