Bolton wins manufacturing contract against Taiwan
Bolton-based contract manufacturer Ability Tec has won a contract from Parotec Solutions, for business that was formerly going to China.
“We had quality concerns with our supplier in China and it was taking three months to get the circuit boards delivered,” said Parotec owner Bob Atkins. “Ability Tec’s price is within a whisker of what we’re getting from China but for a more advanced, higher quality product and the savings we make by not having to take 17 hour flights to the Far East compared to visiting a factory three miles away is huge in terms of cost, time and also certainty.” Adding: “It also helps our cash flow that we can order in smaller batches of a thousand units whereas China could only offer their prices on large, inflexible orders.”
Ability Tec was created last year when the Government closed a Remploy Electronics factory.
Manchester-based business consultancy Local Business Partners was approached by Greater Manchester Chamber to see if the factory could be re-opened.
“The company provides part-time directors of finance, HR and marketing to growing SMEs,” said Ability. “It put together a business plan and negotiated a rescue plan with the Government.”
Ability Tec is being run by part-time directors as a social enterprise, said Ability. Profits are re-invested in the company and distributed as bonuses to non-director staff.
Three quarters of the workforce is disabled.
It procures materials for, assembles and tests PCBs, “and can provide full turn-key service with products ready to ship to end customers”, said Ability.
Parotec was using a Taiwanese contractor with factories in China to manufacture a charger for multiple mobile phones, iPads and tablets.
After a trial run, Ability is now making the whole 5,000 per annum run of chargers.
“We began to seek a UK source of manufacture and when I heard about what Ability Tec is doing I simply drove to their factory and knocked on their door. It was the day after the re-opening of the factory had been in the press and I think they were a bit taken aback,” said Parotec’s Atkins. “They put me in touch with a Manchester-based electronics designer to revise the specification and we put the work out to tender.
“Bob simply drove into the car park and banged on the door,” said Oli Randell, MD of Ability.
On competing with China, Randell said: “Too many companies see the unit cost from a factory with cheap labour, but don’t see the added cost to them of working capital, transportation and storage, duty and also management time in having to maintain supplier relationships across thousands of miles and several time zones.