BLOG: Our customers see us as partners providing solutions…

Our customers see us as partners providing solutions...

…And we see ourselves as an extension of our customers. That alignment and shared vision is our very essence, and forms the basis of our communication, building our business relationships.

If you had asked me 12 months ago what it was we did at IPC Mouldings, I would have said that we are an advanced manufacturer offering mould tool design and manufacture, CNC machining, injection moulding and value add assemblies. These are our core capabilities.

Today my answer would be different. We have evolved. We provide solutions.

During the first lockdown we assessed the risk, put measures in place to keep our people safe and continued operations.

We supported our customers at each and every stage. We faced a decrease in demand, the forecast became unstable, orders were pushed out, pulled in and even cancelled; the supply chain extended their lead times and we experienced material costs increases due to lower volume price breaks.

Throughout all of this being resilient was key, but by continuing to align the business to that of our customers’ needs and demands we knew that we could push through.

Open and transparent communication is fundamental in managing our business. We have weekly meetings set up with our buyers across multiple sites to manage demand and we have monthly conversations to agree and sign off on our performance.

We revisited our KPIs, analysed and updated our quality system and invested in new engineering software, accounting and MRP systems.

By the end of the summer 2020 we realised that, actually, we were prepared, agile enough to realign quickly and financially stable to weather the storm. IPC was doing okay, delivering quality product on time, in full and we also retained SC21 Gold status.

Like many other manufacturing companies, we filled some capacity through increased production with our medical customer whose vital assistance was necessary during the pandemic, but IPC’s focus remains on aerospace and the shape of its recovery.

What do we see taking place in the interim period until the aerospace sector recovers…

Over the past number of years, we have advanced our thinking. Today our strategy is to provide solutions and create additional value by introducing efficiencies to control cost to the customer and to compete for high level assemblies, managing the customer supply chain and providing a total solution for product whole life.

Change is good for business and as we evolved, we have been able to differentiate ourselves from the others. We continually ask ourselves; how can we improve; how can we create opportunity? We ask our customer, where are your pain points, and how can we be a better supplier? Now we also ask – how can we be your best supplier?

Our customers see us as partners providing solutions and we see ourselves as an extension of our customers. That alignment and shared vision is our very essence, and forms the basis of our communication, building our business relationships.

Our plan for 2021 through to 2024 is very clear. We have set this year’s targets and budgets; a visible forecast is in place and we have defined and shared our strategy to emerge stronger from the crisis through continuous improvement and investment.

The key elements are increased capability through capital expenditure and investment in training our people to ensure we have the resources to deliver that new capability.

The pandemic has brought many challenges, challenge drives improvement and improvement drives opportunity, so while we acknowledge the multiple and complex challenges of the last twelve months, we also acknowledge the opportunities and rewards.

2020 brought about a temporary pause to our growth plan, which will fully resume as the aerospace industry restarts. In the meantime, we continue to be a trusted supply chain partner exporting 45% of our product to USA and the rest of world. We also continue to operate within the parameters of the SC21 Gold attainment and we have no doubt that we will continue to evolve as a business.

The IPC team will emerge out of this crisis, stronger, more resilient and more prepared for the restart of the aerospace sector.

Joanne Liddle, MD, IPC Mouldings.

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