Subcontracting shows its strength

2 min read

Against the backdrop of a gloomy economic climate, the evidence shows that subcontracting is going against the flow. More and more companies seem to be turning to subcontractors to take cost and risk out of their own manufacturing operations. The strength of this year’s Subcon exhibition underlined this trend – with over 200 exhibitors signed up so far it is set to be one of the biggest and best shows for years.

Subcon, which takes place from 9 to 11 June at the NEC, is the UK’s national and international showcase for subcontract manufacturing services. Its exhibitors cover all aspects of mechanical and electronic manufacture, such as machined parts, plastic mouldings, circuitry, fabrication, profiling and castings.

Visitors range from large OEMs and smaller companies that have their own products to higher tier suppliers – the one thing that they have in common is that they want an outside supplier to make components for them rather than manufacturing them in-house.

As Exhibition Director Jon Hughes explains, “It is wrong to think of the manufacturing sector as uniformly depressed. Away from directly consumer-facing areas such as volume automotive manufacture there are a lot of manufacturing companies – in sectors such as aerospace, energy, medical equipment, petrochemicals, heavy engineering – that are extremely busy and looking to expand the volume of business they do with subcontractors.”

At the same time, there is a growing demand for outsourced manufacturing from companies that are less certain about the future.

 “Using subcontractors for all or part of your production gives you complete flexibility on volumes and activity levels, and means you don’t have to make difficult decisions regarding investment in capital plant. It might sound counter-intuitive to say this in the face of the global economic conditions we currently face, but this year’s show is promising to be one of the most successful events yet,” he adds.

Subcon 2009 will give buyers the chance to source all types of subcontract manufacturing services from the UK’s biggest showcase of national and international suppliers.

Manufacturing services on offer cover everything from machined parts, electronic assemblies, castings, plastic mouldings and metal fabrications, through to full manufacturing services, design and build, and rapid prototyping.

This year’s event is sponsored by the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing and supported by leading industry associations such as the GTMA, Confederation of British Metalforming and the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC).

To find out more about Subcon 2009, and to register for your free ticket, visit the show website at

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