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Manufacturers make it in a downturn

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Manufacturers can make it through the downturn by using lean techniques to release cash locked up in excess stock and slow production, according to the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) North West.

"With restricted sources of credit, improving cashflow is crucial to business survival" said Adam Buckley, MAS North West programme manager. "The proven lean techniques used by world-class manufacturers will help to minimise cash exposure by cutting waste and reducing inventory. This will also reduce lead times, which means customers get quicker delivery of completed products and the manufacturer gets paid faster."

Manufacturers can access free advice and subsidised support through MAS to take control of their cash. Businesses of all sizes are eligible for a free annual on-site manufacturing review that is  designed around individual company needs and can identify areas for improvement that offer immediate cost savings and productivity improvements.

Added Adam Buckley: "Money that is often tied up in processes can be released within a few weeks, generating significant cash benefit. Removing waste processes will also free up capacity and enable businesses to redeploy staff to more valuable activity such as product development or supplier management.

"But manufacturers must also use tough times to address how they can perform better in the long term – looking strategically at opportunities to focus on sustainable activities that lead to stability and growth."

Since 2002 MAS North West, which is delivered in the region by The Manufacturing Institute, has helped manufacturers to make financial savings of £595m.  From April 2005, with further funding from the Northwest Regional Development Agency and European Regional Development fund – matched by The Manufacturing Institute's own charitable reserves – companies have benefited from an extended range of support under the Agenda for Change programme. This has brought additional financial benefits of £156m – meaning, the organisation says,  North West manufacturers have boosted profitability by a total £751m over the past six years, as well as creating, or safeguarding, 7849 jobs. For more information about the MAS North West service, visit

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