Outsourcing manufacturing: British v. overseas suppliers

In this global age, there is literally a world of options when it comes to choosing a contract electronics manufacturer. But there is a good chance that the supplier that can best serve your needs is located close to home.

The reasons for the widespread use of overseas suppliers in recent decades are well documented, but as the dynamics of international trade shift and the requirements of domestic manufacturing evolve, the decision about outsourcing manufacturing, and in particular where it is done, is one that now requires much greater consideration.

Why it can be better to choose a British outsourcing partner

Selecting a contract electronics manufacturer can be complicated; choosing between an overseas supplier and a British one is often part of this process. Making the correct decision is crucial.

There are many benefits to working with a British supplier and an increasing number of manufacturers are choosing to do so and enjoying the advantages that having a domestic partner offers.

8 benefits of working with a British contract electronics manufacturer

  1. Competitive manufacturing costs. Traditionally, the major benefit of using an overseas supplier was lower costs, which were possible largely because of lower wages. But wage levels are rising across the globe and the cost of transporting parts and finished products is continuing to increase. As a result, this basic cost advantage is being eroded, making the cost of working with a domestic supplier more competitive.
  2. Greater supply chain transparency. In today’s marketplace, manufacturers are required to put more and more emphasis on social responsibility throughout the supply chain, and using overseas suppliers can raise issues relating to worker conditions and community impact. Working with a British contract electronics manufacturing partner offers the opportunity for greater supply chain transparency.
  3. Lower travelling costs. Meetings with overseas suppliers and visits to overseas manufacturing facilities present a significant cost, both in financial terms and with regard to the time spent by key personnel carrying out such activities, particularly if a large number of people need to be involved. Using a British supplier, travel to which is comparatively short and inexpensive, reduces these costs dramatically.
  4. Closer relationships. A successful outsourcing manufacturing partnership is based on a close relationship. Limited face-to-face time and interaction between key personnel is a potential downside of using an overseas supplier. Language can also be a barrier. It is easier to build trust and form a true partnership, benefiting from the advantages that this brings, with a domestic contract electronics manufacturer.
  5. Better quality control. Quality issues are part and parcel of the production process and what is essential is that they are identified as early as possible and addressed as quickly as possible. Distance can negatively impact this process, with direct oversight much more difficult. Working with a British supplier means that prototypes and samples can be shipped more quickly and conversations about problems can be carried out more easily. In short, it is easier to ensure that quality expectations are met.
  6. Greater flexibility. A domestic supplier is more likely to be able to accommodate fluid and real-time manufacturing demands, such as smaller production runs, lower quantity orders and last-minute product runs. Overseas suppliers generally provide only large-volume orders and their location often makes meeting unscheduled urgent orders virtually impossible.
  7. Better access to specialised expertise. While overseas suppliers offer the process capacity, they may not have the specialised manufacturing expertise that you need to ensure that your product is manufactured to the standard that will ensure its competitiveness. It is easier to find a domestic supplier with the expertise best suited to your product.
  8. Tighter intellectual property security. It is critical that your intellectual property is fully protected and using a domestic supplier offers greater assurance that it is in safe hands. The nightmare scenario of an overseas supplier copying your product technology to manufacture their own product, would leave you competing against a low-cost version of your own product. Using a British supplier is a safeguard against such a development.

    As trading and market conditions alter across the world, the thinking around the use of overseas suppliers is changing. As a result, the decision to work with an overseas supplier requires more thought.

To ensure that you make the correct choice and select the contract electronics manufacturer that is best suited to your product, it is important that you are aware of the advantages of using a British supplier.

To find out how MPE Electronics services can benefit your business, contact us on +44 (0)1825 764822 or enquiries@mpe-electronics.co.uk.