Reshoring your plastic injection moulding with OGM
Recent reports on the manufacturing sector, carried out by organisations that include Lloyds Bank and the University of Warwick, have highlighted the trend towards reshoring.
37% of manufacturers surveyed by Lloyds Bank in its ‘Business in Britain’ report said that they plan to reshore their production processes, from Asia or Eastern Europe. Of these, 71% said that their goal was to improve quality; 44% to reduce costs and 41% to shorten their supply chains.
These figures are supported by a separate report from Warwick University, ‘The Realities of Reshoring’. This revealed that companies that had either reshored production or chosen to expand UK based production in preference to offshoring had considerably improved their levels of overall performance.
The same report also identified that companies with reshoring strategies had a greater focus on innovation, access to qualified staff, skills, technology and reducing supply chain risk.
These findings are reflected in the field of plastic injection mould tool making, where the trend to offshore the manufacture of complete injection mould tool sets to the Far East has reversed in recent years.
Dig beneath the surface of these statistics, however, and there’s more going on than at first appears.
Let’s use OGM as an example. We’re a world-class plastic injection moulding company with diversified interests and customers around the world. Although all plastic injection moulding is carried out at our two production centres in the UK, and we have a dedicated injection tool making facility at our site in Oxford, we have also built strong relationships with specialised tool makers in China.
Supporting your reshoring decision
Our strategy is to use the most appropriate skills, knowledge and resources for each customer or project. Depending on factors such as lead times or technical complexity we may, therefore, draw upon resources from our UK team, our partners in China, or a combination of both.
In 2018 we did, however, take the decision to reshore much of the specialised production of injection mould tool inserts back to the UK. It was this decision that drove our major investment in a unique hybrid metal additive manufacturing system, which combines precision laser sintering in a range of metals with an integrated CNC finishing unit, to produce fully finished inserts quickly and at highly competitive prices.
These can then be combined with injection mould tool parts engineered at our UK facility or, if lead times are not an issue, with tool sets produced by our partners in China.
This gives our customers the best of both worlds, with optimal flexibility in terms of cost, delivery and quality.
The hybrid metal additive manufacturing system also gives us the ability to create an innovative injection mould tool inserts, which are not available elsewhere. Recent examples include inserts with true conformal cooling characteristics, capable of improving the quality of finished plastic injection moulded parts and the cycle rates of moulding machines. A further example is the development of inserts that overcome the traditional problems of gas venting, again improving the quality of finished plastic parts.
We believe that the future for UK manufacturing will be in the design and production of high-value products, together with a highly skilled workforce that can add even greater value to the products and services offered by our industrial businesses.
This will depend on the ability of companies such as OGM to continue investing in the latest technologies and in the ongoing development of a highly skilled labour force. It will also require the adoption of strategies that recognise that success depends on combining the best-in-class resources for each customer, defined by factors such as quality, speed of delivery and cost, regardless of where in the world they may be found.