Collaborative Effort to Support Manufacturing Growth in the Bolton Area

On 15th December 2016 manufacturers based in the Bolton area pulled together to share ideas and kick start a more collaborative approach to manufacturing support.
Assembly Solutions Ltd, a leading cable assembly, panel wiring and control panel manufacturer in the UK opened up their doors to share best practise. They provided the group with an insightful picture of their business model design, how they manage and cascade key business objectives, marketing best practise and the implementation of lean manufacturing.

Local business owner, Peter Hammond, Managing Director at Auto Marine Cables summarised the event by saying, “A very good event at Assembly Solutions, who are setting the bar higher than many SME’s and reminding us of what’s achievable. Also, an interesting group of individuals who shared their common opportunities/problems very openly. I like the idea of a local charity attending which puts many an issues into perspective.”

“I feel what’s missing in the Bolton area is the link between academia and industry. Both parties are busy on their core business and will only spend so much time trying to find the opportunities so the solution needs to be a very clear and simple link. I look forward to seeing the growth of this collaborative group and how it will bridge the gap between academia and the needs of local manufacturers.”

The feedback provided by the manufacturing businesses in attendance focused on a few key challenges:

  • Skills – Recruiting skilled people into the industry.
  • Marketing – Having a consistent pipeline of new leads.
  • Cost Reduction – Due to the pressure of increased material costs and wage rises competing today and in the future will become more of a challenge.
  • Time management – Having the time to work on non manufacturing related tasks, such as, training people, strategic planning, making improvements.

Graham Balshaw, Managing Director at Assembly Solutions, shared his views on manufacturing support and said, “We would welcome the opportunity to engage more with other local manufacturers, local authorities and further education. As a local businessman and employer, you can rely on my support to help drive manufacturing forward in the Bolton area.”

“I do think manufacturing support has lost its way a little bit in recent years and the landscape has become confusing for manufacturing business owners. We don’t know who to contact with our challenges or to find out new opportunities. I hope this is the start of something that simplifies manufacturing support for the Bolton manufacturing community.”

The event was a new initiative developed by The Manufacturers Alliance, University of Bolton, Bolton Council, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub. The group intend to work collaboratively in the Bolton area to:

  1. provide a platform for local manufacturing business owners to have a voice
  2. identify the needs of local manufacturing businesses
  3. connect the manufacturing community with support that best fits the needs
  4. design a support service that works best for the manufacturing community
  5. drive the industry forward and support growth

This is an innovative way of collaborating and supporting the industry and will be designed based on the needs of local industry. The group will have a strong focus on supporting business growth and creating employment in the Bolton area, which can only be a positive outcome for the town.

Gary Sheader, Founder & Chairman of The Manufacturers Alliance summarised the event by saying, “We want to support the growth of manufacturing in the Bolton area and develop something new based on the feedback and ambitions of local manufacturers. This may be a hybrid of current solutions available or the creation of something new. The important thing is we will create this based on the feedback of the local manufacturing community.”

“The manufacturing world is changing at a pace that we have never experienced before. If we are to create and deliver an industrial strategy in the UK we need to listen to the needs of local industry and act quickly. Our new approach involving the local Council, University, Chamber and Growth Hub will enable us to tap into the core strengths of these organisations involved and build something that becomes a real driving force for change.”

“I am excited about the future for manufacturers in the Bolton area and will do whatever I can to ensure they get the best support available.”

As an added bonus the meeting raised £350 in donations from guests for local charity Lagans Foundation. A Bolton based charity offering home respite and support services for young children with heart defects or feeding issues across the UK.

If you are a manufacturing business based in the Bolton area and would like to learn more about the new approach to supporting Bolton manufacturers please contact, Business Bolton on 01204 336222 or email

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