Posted at 18-Mar-2021

Brexit: predictable uncertainty. How we’re working with customers to manage the challenges of Brexit

Paul Skade
By Richard Ludlam
Marketing Manager

Intrigued by all things engineering, as a youngster I originally looked to understand how things work then, how to make them work better.

After time in eng...

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After four years of uncertainty, we have now moved to a position where the terms of the future relationship with our largest trading partner are becoming clearer.  However, the devil, as the saying goes, is in the detail; much of this still remains to be worked out if we’re to return to anything close to the seamless and business-friendly model that we’ve enjoyed for the last 40 years.

 

All of which, as we move into a new phase in our trading relationships with the rest of Europe and nations around the world, continues to present businesses with a significant degree of uncertainty, especially in the short-term. 

For example, at a national level, there have long been concerns about the dramatically increased volume of customs paperwork that is now going to be required, together with questions about the ability of IT technology such as the Goods Vehicle Movement System to cope, with the risk of extensive delays at ports, across both the English Channel and the Irish Sea.  

Longer-term, uncertainties over regulations and compliance with the manufacture and sale of goods on each side of our new trading frontiers will almost certainly create fresh problems and added costs for many companies. 

Back in 2018, in anticipation that the Brexit process was only ever going to become increasingly complex and disjointed, we established a Brexit Committee.  This is made up of specialists from within the ERIKS organisation, with the goal of helping customers negotiate their way through the maze of often contradictory recommendations and messages coming from the UK Government departments and their EU counterparts.

Ever since, we’ve been working closely with customers and supply chain partners to identify potential areas of risk and then to develop strategies that address the different challenges presented by the anticipated Brexit scenarios, from tariff-free to WTO trading arrangements. 

This collaboration has been with all our customers, from major automotive manufacturers to independent industrial SMEs.  In each case, we’ve been able to provide advice and practical assistance; for example, we’ve provided smaller companies with guidance to help them prepare appropriate administrative processes, and have worked with larger organisations to develop effective strategies that minimise Brexit impacts across multiple production facilities.

 

Among the issues of particular concern have been potential increases in lead-times for vital products, especially for OEM parts, plus extra administrative requirements and possible price rises due to tariffs or shortages of supply.  We’ve consulted with a range of customers and industry experts to assess the risks that might arise from any disruption to supply chains; as a result, we’ve implemented a programme to build buffer stocks of critical components and products to ensure continuity of supply and short-term price-stability regardless of the impact of Brexit.

 

Our commercial team has over 50 years of experience in managing import and export arrangements.  So, among all the uncertainty, there’s one thing our customers can be sure of: whatever the future trading relationships with the rest of Europe may look like, we’ve the experience, knowledge and processes to enable us to react and adapt quickly and effectively. 

Although it may not be quite business as usual, you can be certain of the same outstanding level of service, product choice and continuity of supply that you’ve always received from ERIKS.

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