Manufacturing is Coming Home!

So what has this got to do with Software Development you ask yourselves?

Woe is me! The App, which I roundly criticised elsewhere has got its own back and has told me to self-isolate, it seems increasingly likely that Xmas, if not cancelled completely will be a very quiet affair, and on top of that, preparations are underway for turning Gamma Science's home county, Kent, into the world's biggest truck-stop.

So amid the doom and gloom, some good news is welcome, and, according to the Guardian, it seems some very savvy companies are responding to the chaos by returning manufacturing to Great Britain.

The dual impact of the COVID-19 Virus and Brexit has meant that for certain sectors, particularly in the competitive retail markets of Foodstuffs and Fashion, Onshoring makes a lot of sense, with Homewares and DIY looking to follow.

Global supply chains can be slow to adapt to sudden increases or drops in demand caused by shock events or rapidly changing consumer tastes.

I don't know about you, but I haven't worn anything that isn't stretchy for eight months, at this rate my boots are going to survive forever, and last year's coat is just fine for my very occasional trips to the Supermarket or Pharmacy. So it looks like container loads of sparkly party frocks ordered six months ago will head straight to landfill without seeing an Office Party, while we all snuggle up in our Onesies and Loungewear at home for Xmas with just our bubbles, if we are lucky!

It makes green sense too. The Pandemic has made consumers very aware of the ethical impact of their fashion and food choices.

Christopher Nieper, the chief executive of fashion business David Nieper, said, in the Guardian: “Manufacturing in Britain makes business accountable and allows control over each step of the production process." [1]

So what has this got to do with Software Development you ask yourselves?

Well, onshoring manufacturing is a huge effort and a new opportunity for Industry. I asked the Head of the Geekforce what it all meant, and he said, "You see, it all comes down to those words Accountability and Control."

Management Information is key here. With retailers getting closer and closer to the season, long lead-time stock can be commercial suicide. And as markets change in response to social changes accelerated by the pandemic, firms that can pivot rapidly will have a competitive advantage.

What Gamma Science is very good at is integrating systems that do not naturally talk to each other and presenting them to inform agile management decisions, of the kind that will be most needed in the future. Not just your accounting system, or your ordering system, or Goods In and Out but a dashboard that can show KPI from all facets of the business together, in one place, understandable at a glance because data is presented in context.

To claw back some of the savings of cheaper unit labour costs from Asia, tighter budget controls will be needed, as input/stock purchasing leads payments. Better Just In Time Ordering systems may be needed to support running stocks at a lower level, to allow manufacturers to swiftly pivot, for example from party frocks to feel-good loungewear as demand alters.

So manufacturers will also need better integration between manufacture and finance department systems, to automate certain actions, Improved logistics, as stocks come, not just from a few ports, but from manufacturers located all over the country.

And of course, today's environmentally conscious consumers will demand traceability of the materials and ingredients that go into the products that they buy.

It could be an exciting time for British manufacture! And as a Kentish Man (or is that Man of Kent?) [Ed: Neither. Horror of horrors - I was born in Essex] The Head of the Geekforce is all for it. Anything to keep more lorries off the Kentish Roads!

[1]https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/nov/23/covid-and-brexit-could-see-uk-manufacturers-bringing-it-all-back-home