Broanmain Plastics explains how its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) could create lots of opportunities for Plastics Manufacturers.

China claims to be the world’s largest manufacturer with an output totalling $2 trillion, and the United Kingdom has a good reputation in services and advanced manufacturing.

Therefore, the UK is a suitable candidate to help China meet the needs of its dynamic economy through the BRI plan.

The BRI is a plan aimed at rebuilding and expanding the old Silk Road between Europe and China, and presents multiple engineering and partnership opportunities, particularly for plastic manufacturers.

Technical trade moulder Broanmain is taking advantage of this increased connectivity by utilising the best of both manufacturing worlds. As a result, the company is helping customers to meet tight production deadlines and lowering costs without compromising on quality.

Broanmain helps its clients to design and make the master tool via its Chinese tool making partners. Therefore, instead of producing thousands of units of a component in China, production of the component is carried out in a workshop in the UK, which ensures significant savings, a faster production process, and guaranteed quality of the finished item. Any final modifications are then made before the finished tool is shipped to the UK, ready for Broanmain to begin manufacturing the component at its Surrey facility.

The entire tool making process is able to be managed by Broanmain on behalf of its clients from start to finish. Broanmain’s Operations Director Jo Davis commented: “From our UK office we assist with the initial design of the component, which we send to China where the tool design is created. Our in-house engineers then scrutinise the Chinese design and make any changes.

“Once the customer has signed off the tool design, our Chinese partners manufacture the tool. Crucially, it’s made from a number of different parts rather than one solid piece, which enables us to access any insert if we need to make changes further down the line.”

There are many benefits of offshoring the tool making to China and re-shoring ongoing production of the component. Broanmain believes that the convenience and cost efficiencies gained by re-shoring moulding close to UK sites, and the export price differential as a result of shipping and reduced holding inventory has prompted many manufacturers to switch to domestic moulding companies.

Another benefit of shorter runs and local production is the increased quality and quicker reactions in the case a customisation is required. Davis explains: “If there’s a problem with the component or consumer trends dictate a change, our customers can call us, or even visit us at our factory, talking to us in the same language, in the same time zone.

“Our in-house workshop engineers can amend the component and run off a new batch, dispatching it within 24-hours. Waste is kept to a minimum and production schedules aren’t affected.”

Broanmain believe its involvement from the start of the tool making design process pays dividends further down the line, too. Davis adds: “Toolmakers aren’t moulders so will often make a tool without understanding the moulding parameters.

“We consider what the final component will look like, the materials it will be made from, and even the machines it will be made on.”

Davis concludes: “Without the help of our Chinese tool making partners, many of these UK projects would have been dead in the water, or the whole manufacturing process (not just the tool) would have been sent to China.

“Instead, we’ve created ongoing manufacturing work here in the UK.”

The set-up aims to provide optimism for future UK-China trade relations, as it shows where the two powerhouses can offer clients the benefit of a unified process.