Bolton beats Beijing in manufacturing coup

ability-tec-logoUK manufacturers can beat China on price, quality and service, as Bolton based contract electronics manufacturer, Ability Tec, has proved. This social enterprise company was born out of a former Remploy Electronics factory and three quarters of the workforce is disabled.

Among its customers is technology business, Parotec Solutions, a company which was using a Taiwan contractor with factories in China to manufacture its device – a charger for multiple mobile phones, iPads and tablet PCs. After a trial run using Ability Tec printed circuit boards, Parotec decided to switch its entire 5,000 unit per annum production from China to Bolton.

Owner of Parotec Solutions, Bob Atkins, said: “Ability Tec’s price is within a whisker of our Chinese supplier, but for a more advanced, higher quality product. The savings we make on flights to the Far East, compared to visiting a factory three miles away, is huge in terms of cost, time and certainty. 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. The fact that we are working with a business that creates social benefits is a bonus.”

Managing director of Ability Tec, Oli Randell, added: “Too many companies see the unit cost from a factory with cheap labour, but don’t see the added cost of working capital, transportation and storage, duty and time spent managing supplier relationships across thousands of miles and several time zones.

“When we set up Ability Tec we knew that with the skills of the existing workforce, combined with some commercial thinking, we could compete with anyone, whether it is local or China.”