UK aerospace has a 17% global market share, making it the leading aerospace sector in Europe. This provides suppliers with a massive opportunity to secure big contracts. Aerospace organisation ADS, created Supply Chains for the 21st Century (SC21) to improve operations and it is now a sought after accreditation. Peter Jones, SC21 project manager at Manufacturing Advisory Service, discusses how the accreditation’s funding works and the Manufacturing Advisory Consortium (MAC).
TM: Why did MAS choose to get involved with SC21?
PJ: The programme is run and governed by ADS, which came up with the SC21 programme. We looked at it as a business support organisation and recognised that it fitted incredibly well with the philosophies of MAS in term of supporting businesses to diversify and grow, improve efficiencies, sustainability.
TM: Where does SC21 funding come from?
Peter Jones: It is 100% from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), so it only covers SMEs in the West Midlands region. The funding runs until September 2012 and we have £250,000 left to spend. After that it’s a case of: do we extend it? Do we incorporate it into MAS nationally?
TM: Is SC21 recognised in Europe?
PJ: 75% of people within the aerospace sector are aware of SC21. It is industry developed, and industry governed.
TM: Are companies involved in SC21 benefitting in terms of the number of contracts that they win?
PJ: Some aerospace companies have said that you need SC21 to supply to them. The good thing with SC21 is that there is always a return on investment for any money spent on the programme. Companies use SC21 because they are so busy they need to create capacity and improve the controls they have got on the business so they can carry on expanding. Businesses that use SC21 to diversify into the aerospace markets, but they have to go through the SC21 diagnostics to look at whether they are in the right place to win aerospace contracts.
TM: What are some of the most common things that SC21 does to improve a company’s supply chain and management?
PJ: Ultimately, the programme is bespoke to every company who uses SC21. We can help companies achieve AS9100, which can then get them into the supply chain selling to tier ones and primes. On the business side, SC21 uses EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) diagnostics to investigate a company’s business infrastructure and training strategy, using the radar mechanism. On the manufacturing side, lean manufacturing excellence analyses whether a company is using all the right toolsets in terms of high versatility bill of materials and visual managements.
We use that diagnostic to measure where that company is today and set out the plan for what they need to do to become a world class supplier.
TM: Changing subject, has the swap from MAS to MAC been a smooth one?
PJ: Nothing has really changed. Nationally, the four MAC consortium members have carved up the national mass service into 4 sections. MAS-WM have got West Midlands, North East and North West. It’s a fairly even split based on the number of manufacturers in each region.
TM: Has there been much confusion from manufacturers over the new national MAS which has replaced the RDAs they were previously using?
We’re still easily findable on Google. It should have relieved some of the confusion and the postcode lottery that happened under the RDAs .
TM: When you say postcode lottery, was it actually a postcode lottery or were they services tailored to local businesses?
PJ: The SC21 programme is going to be West Midlands run only until September because it existed under the RDA system. What we may be able to do with the Regional Development Funding, and there’s no decision been made on it yet, is that we may be able to extend an SC21 programme nationally and in the same way as MAS are now national. But there’s a long way to go until we decide that.
It was down to each individual RDA what support businesses to receive, you didn’t know what you were going to get. We certainly try and get involved with LEPs and support them as much as we can.