Reshoring Movement Reaching Europe Too

Reshoring is not just a North American movement; the UK is also experiencing a manufacturing resurgence.

Reshoring is not just a North American movement; the UK is also experiencing a manufacturing resurgence. Case in point: Pentagon Plastics (Horsham, West Sussex, UK), a family-run plastics injection molding company, which says that many UK manufacturers that sent products to China now want those same products made in the UK.

Gabby Day, business development coordinator at Pentagon Plastics, told Plastics Technology that the company received an inquiry in early 2014 from a customer looking to bring back the manufacturing of its existing products to the UK. This customer was experiencing issues with its supplier such as components supplied in the wrong materials and critical dimensions were not being met, which caused problems in the final build program.

“It was incredibly difficult to resolve these issues and so our customer decided to look at the option of reshoring their existing tooling to the UK to give them greater control and ease of communication going forward,” Day said. Still, Day said it turned out that the customer did not actually own the full mold tooling for their products, “which put them in a very difficult situation.”

Ready to get their product line back up and running to the required standard and to improve their overall supply chain, the company asked Pentagon Plastics to provide quotations for the UK tooling and production of various components. According to Day, the customer expected the costs would be too expensive to bring the component production back to the UK, however, it was “pleasantly surprised at the competitiveness of our tooling and production quotations." Pentagon used the tooling to mold a range of threaded end caps and connector products to the customer.

“We have now provided tooling for part of the overall product range, which was deemed more crucial to reshore, with a successful outcome for our customer,” Day said. “We will be looking at further tooling and production supply for them going forward and we look forward to a solid partnership for the future.”

RENOVATIONS   

In 2012, Pentagon embarked on a major investment program. Day said the cost of the work to date is about £300, 000 ($340,000) and it is not complete yet.

“However, every penny has already proved its worth as we see improvement in the flow of production, communication and staff welfare,” Day said.

Thus far, Pentagon has relocated its tool room facility in order to have more room. The company has also invested in a new HURCO CNC machine.

Post-molding was also relocated to provide more space as the company has experienced an increase in demand for its post-molding services lately.

The final phase, which the company calls its “biggest challenge,” will be on work to its mold shop that will start toward the end of 2015. Pentagon currently runs nine molding machines and they are looking to add another two. The company says that before they purchase machines, they need to identify the market potential to determine the size of machines and whether it would benefit from installing a clean room area specifically for medical molding, or whether it would be better geared to more technical industries.

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