Could do better

17 Mar 2021

Engineering capacity news posted by Andy Sandford

The Cast Metals Federation, CMF, has urged the Government to be more ambitious in its plans for an overhaul of public procurement to support UK manufacturing supply chains in its response to the Green Paper and consultation. 

“We welcome the fact that the Government is proposing a more streamlined and transparent process, but we would like to see more recognition of the strategic role that public procurement can have to significantly transform UK supply chains in support of the UK economy”, says CMF CEO Pam Murrell FICME.  “We are not sure that the Government has realised that it has an enormously powerful tool at its disposal to support UK jobs and economic growth.”

In particular, the CMF has called for increased value to be placed upon the greater use of locally-sourced content down the supply chain, due to the additional value that this can deliver to the UK in terms of jobs and skills in the regions (levelling-up), as well as the impact on reducing transport and freight (net zero).  

There is currently no transparency about where sub-contracted parts and services are sourced by main contractors for public contracts, leading to lost opportunities for UK suppliers, and there is nothing in the current plans to improve this situation.  Main contractors will tend to use ‘known’ suppliers and are likely to rely on them, understandably, and it would be beneficial to see some incentives (or a nudge) to encourage main contractors to consider the full supply chain for significant projects as well as the role of local suppliers of goods and services (including sub-contractors). 

This will require effort to improve the visibility to procurement teams of these local suppliers and wider supply chains, many of which may be SMEs and work to help to identify barriers to greater engagement by more UK companies, and SMEs in particular.  Like all Trade Associations, CMF can help here due to the Federation’s local and regional links with manufacturers.  Anything that can be done to encourage and facilitate active engagement with new potential suppliers through outreach programmes, and encourage innovation in supply chains, would be welcomed.

Dr Murrell added: “There is an opportunity for an alignment of public procurement with other Government strategies and grand challenges, specifically Net Zero 2050 (clean growth), sustainability and resource efficiency, the levelling-up agenda and the transforming foundation industries challenge. 

“It is important that we retain critical and strategically significant resources and capabilities in the UK as part of sovereign security of supply, and consideration of the whole manufacturing supply chain can have a role to play here.  Let alone the indirect environmental impact of resource efficiency of local supply, such as on waste, energy consumption and carbon emissions, negating the carbon leakage caused when materials are produced elsewhere.

“Our members, who are suppliers of engineered components for all parts of the advanced manufacturing supply chains, are ready to be part of the solution to the re-building agenda, but we do need to be given the opportunities to be involved as part of the whole manufacturing supply chain.

“We would like the proposal to be more ambitious, as the current outline represents a missed opportunity to significantly transform UK supply chains, in support of UK jobs and economic growth.”

The Cast Metals Federation is the UK Trade Association for the UK foundry and castings industry and a member of the UK Metals Council. The membership includes foundries, foundry supply companies and academia. CMF Members come from every part of the industry and produce around 85 per cent of all precision engineered components using casting as the near-net-shape route to manufacture.  Castings are produced in the UK for a wide range of sectors including rail, defence, energy, construction, chemical, water and transport, including EVs.  CMF supports the UK castings industry as a whole, and aims to promote casting as a net shape route to manufacture, recognising the role that the industry plays in the circular economy for metals as permanent materials with inherent value. 

For further information, please contact:

Dr P Murrell FICME pammurrell@cmfed.co.uk