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Brexit – Where Are We Now?

There are times when I envy an ostrich, or at least the behaviour we have been led to associate with an ostrich! This is especially true when it comes to Brexit. Wouldn’t it be nice just to shut it all out and be left alone to get on with things?

Don’t worry this is not a political piece, we get enough of that on the radio, TV etc etc, along with everyones view and perspective. We are bombarded with information that seems to be support every angle imaginable.

So being an ostrich sounds attractive, albeit what we really need to be doing is what the real bird does, i.e. run like hell!

What we can be certain about is that we are facing change, turmoil, delays, and unpredictability but within this there will be opportunities as well. So we need to be dynamic, adaptable and flexible to cope with what is coming.

In our industry we are heavily biased towards the front end, ie product development. Historically what we have seen is companies ‘banking’ new products. That is, not stopping the development but taking the product to a market ready condition, from where it can be launched or held depending on the opportunity.

Over the last 20 years we have seen massive compression in the time it takes to bring a new product to market. New technologies such as additive manufacturing, the abundance of CAD and collaborative tools to facilitate global teams working together have all had an impact. So we are better equipped than ever to respond to varying conditions and demands.

So whilst accepting that ‘knowledge’ is going to be in short supply, we can understand the factors that influence our supply chains and our customers needs. We can model ourselves on the need for flexibility and the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively. There is no point in complaining, we are where we are, now how do we make the most of it?

Since the vote to leave we have seen significant movement in exchange rates. Where some of our suppliers had been prepared to carry the exchange rate risk, this has evaporated, making it something that we now have to deal with on a daily basis.

Since most international freight is handled in USD, this has been impacted as well. Whilst importing 5000 small mouldings can be done for circa 50USD, some of our larger consignments run into thousands of USD, and this has led to reappraisal of the tool location and in some instances retooling. Whilst this might appear drastic, when faced with a payback of less than six months and insulation from future currency movements, the decision was a simple one.

There are opportunities within the disruption, we just need to seek them out, think laterally and be prepared to adapt to benefit.

So the real ostrich may not be a bad act to follow! After all it can achieve 30mph for protracted periods and 43mph in a sprint. Not at all the ‘head in the sand’ that we usually quote. (Apparently this comes from its need to eat small stones and sand to aid its digestion!)

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