Repatriated manufacturing line officially opened

Posted on 11 Jan 2013 by The Manufacturer

Ventilation systems manufacturer Vent-Axia today officially opened a new manufacturing line which has brought back production of domestic fans from China.

Crawley-based Vent-Axia today celebrated the culmination of a four year project to return production of all of its domestic ventilation fans to the UK.

Production had been off-shored to China, but with escalating labour costs in that country and a desire to achieve better stock control and responsiveness to customer demand, Venta-Axia took the decision to return operations to the UK.

The move has created 20 new jobs in Crawley and required around £350,000 investment in new tooling.

Capacity is also being expanded at Venta-Axia’s Reading injection mould facility to accommodate more local demand.

Vent-Axia’s operations director Paul Davies said that the company had no problems recruiting the staff it needed for the assembly line but did have concerns about ongoing skills needs at the injection moulding site. “We find it difficult to find the setting skills,” he said.

The Manufacturer is hosting an event in London on 26 February, 2013 looking at how to ‘Drive Skills Development in the Workforce’. Follow the link for more information.

Today’s  launch event for the line attracted the Mayor of Crawley and local MP Henry Smith who welcomed the repatriation of Vent-Axia’s manufacturing as “an endorsement of the Crawley area” as a place to do business and a welcome contribution to the region’s efforts to reduce unemployment. Mr Smith said this is now down to 3.6% locally.

The Crawley facility will now produce around 250,000 plastic domestic ventilation fans as well as a broad range of other products. The factory deals with a total of 8500 SKUs.

Ronnie George, MD of Volution, Vent-Axia’s parent company commented on the decision to return manufacturing to the UK saying: “I have worked in manufacturing for 27 years and during that time it has been my sad responsibility to oversee the closure of many UK factories as the word ‘offshoring’ became all too common. Vent-Axia is bucking the economic trend and I hope this work to bring production back to the UK marks a turning of the tide.”

Questioned on the relative unit cost of production in the UK when compared with China Mr George said: “It is about the same. The move anticipates further wage inflation in China. In my view low labour costs are the only reason to manufacture there for us. We never have and never will innovate there.”