Rail Industry Focus


Unique support for rail sector supply chain SMEs

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Apr/May 2014

A new organisation dedicated to taking a fresh approach to how SMEs in the transport engineering supply chain maximise their potential had its official launch in April, led by a keynote address from transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP. Colin McKinnon, MD of Enscite, explains the organisation’s work, aims, ambitions and plans.

Enscite is focused on helping manufacturing businesses to grow and thrive by providing an extensive portfolio of specialist support services across practical hands-on consultancy, business improvement programmes, workforce development and training, as well as a £1m technology fund. It is positioned to change the culture of the transport engineering supply chain to develop technology that can be used to help industry.

Enscite takes a totally fresh approach to the support provided to SMEs operating in the transport engineering sector, specifically those in the supply chain serving the rail, aerospace and automotive sectors.

It forges close working relationships across the supply chain – from OEMs through to SMEs – to support the growth in re-shoring and SMEs seeking to innovate and grow new commercial opportunities. Enscite is also keen to work alongside organisations specifically within the rail sector, including the Derby & Derbyshire Rail Forum (DDRF).

Enscite’s partners Derby City Council, The University of Derby, Aston University, and Cranfield University play a key role in
this support. By utilising their world-class expertise, we deliver practical business improvement programmes, run supply chain workshops, and leverage funding to support investments in new technology.

Supply chains are becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Unpredictable economic conditions, non-linear market growth and a stripping-out of capacity have reduced the margin of error in their planning. The UK’s major transport engineering firms recognise the growing complexity of supply chain management and are investing increasing sums to ensure their supply chains add value to critical operations.

With the re-shoring of production comes a huge opportunity for UK SMEs to win work that would previously have gone overseas.
Most major firms recognise that simple savings on unit costs of production can be far outweighed by the risks inherent in geographically dispersed supply chains.

This change makes now the right time for Enscite, as it is dedicated to supporting ambitious supply chain companies wishing to take advantage of this trend – but the challenge is how they can innovate and improve. This is where Enscite fits in, as we will work with them to identify the steps to achieve this, whilst striving to break down the barriers SMEs often face with the tier 1s and OEMs in the sector.

We believe the answer is a holistic approach that combines collaborative working, bringing together all components along the supply chain to collate and share market intelligence, to ultimately build open innovation practices. Enscite is positioned to work alongside companies throughout the supply chain to make this easier and more fruitful, by providing expert support services.

We also aim to help SMEs become trusted suppliers to transport manufacturing OEMs or tier 1s, and to improving supply chain collaboration around sustainability and future growth by bringing the supply chain together around developing new, or improving existing, products.

Three companies have already benefited from Enscite’s support and funding, and by 2015 our target is to have worked with 50 companies in this way, helping them to increase revenues and reduce costs, or even both.

Next year, Enscite moves to the Innovation Centre at Infinity Park, Derby, the new 250-acre manufacturing and technology business park. The Innovation Centre will be an iconic building offering office and workshop space to advanced manufacturing companies and
start-up businesses. From here, Enscite will provide incubation and support services alongside additional facilities including the ‘Fab Lab’ where companies can access advanced digital manufacturing technology to turn new ideas into potential products, with the support of on-site skilled technicians.

There were 190 representatives at our official launch at Derby’s Roundhouse, proving the appetite for Enscite’s fresh approach. In his keynote address, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP underlined Enscite’s critical role and ambition, saying he was “very pleased to back Enscite” as it will “enable companies within the transport sector to take its skills and opportunities even further”.

He also said: “Multi-billion pound projects like Thameslink and Crossrail and huge investment plans for our road and rail networks are providing countless opportunities for small and medium sized businesses to grow. That is why it is vital an organisation like Enscite exists to support these businesses and help drive forward our economy.”

Enscite is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Regional Growth Fund.

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