Manufacturing Websites, to web or not to web?

Recently I started a discussion regarding SMEs and their websites, the discussion started with this quote “an interesting observation this week whilst working, how many SMEs lack an all singing all dancing website. What’s the reason, with 90+% of people now looking on line this should be a priority.” Now all singing all dancing to me means bringing a Return on Investment. Here some excellent extracts and comments from the people involved, I’ve tried to get a balance within the discussion, and this is not my area of expertise.

Ashley Pearce: “In research I conducted recently an overwhelming number of those involved with Business Development in the UK Manufacturing Sector didn’t understand the actual function of a website.
Where does it fit in? Is it just a standalone item? Is it our “Digital shopfront“? Is it relevant in our industry?
These were common questions that we arrived at after a short discussion with most. It’s what inspired a number of articles explaining the “System of Modern Sales & Marketing” over on the Manufacturing Network UK Blog.
Fundamentally a Website is often NOT, but SHOULD be seen as, “Part of a System” for attracting, nurturing and converting leads into customers. Can you see the many ways your website & web presence CAN contribute to the system?”

Ashley Pearce: “For me, the most effective way to explain how a website “Fits in” has been to direct them towards the subject of “Inbound Marketing” – with FAIR WARNING. As we say over on the Manufacturing Network Blog almost weekly, “Wear Your Manufacturing Industry Blinkers” when reading anything about marketing your business online.

Most of the information, content and articles out there explaining how it works is NOT written for you, the UK Manufacturer. I think this is why an Integrated approach to Online Marketing and Offline Sales for UK Manufacturing has been very slow to evolve. Lack of “Context” – Explained in the UK Manufacturing Industry context, we may start to see some savvy marketers leaping ahead of the competition”

Garry Taylor: “There is a feeling that unless you can get on the first 2 pages of Google there’s no Point having a Web page. as we don’t actually do sales transactions over the Internet we view as an online brochure with the blog giving any up to date info and an opportunity for feedback plus, small companies are being pushed to pay per click. Everyone knows most people clicking on your sight are not buying so you pay for nothing.”

Richard Stinson: “I spent many years in the engineering sector, from toolmaker to technical sales and I had the privilege of working directly and indirectly with many SME’s as well as the giants like Rolls and BAE. I came to realise quite quickly that the big boys have regular web trawls looking for potential suppliers, just in case their current suppliers let them down or become swamped with work. They literally have a file of reserve suppliers on their list found online. The moral of this story is that unless the SME’s had an effective web presence they were overlooked for many of these lucrative contracts.”

Alan Kent: “Whilst I can appreciate that having a web site might bring you some business, not having one will definitely bring you none. I do feel that it is becoming a bit BS5750-ish though as having a fancy web site costs money that many SMEs would rather channel into capital equipment or a decent salesman who will definitely generate revenues. I can recall putting in a lot of effort into attaining BS5750 in the 1990s which cost a lot of time and money and brought in no sales leads whatsoever. At the time no-one had realised that it was simply a way of showing that you had a process and was never expected to generate leads but without it, you would definitely get no leads.”

Chris Davis: “There are loads of things you can do here. Small web site intelligently constructed .. put stuff on eBay and Amazon have a blog use social media .. Wiki presence .. the list goes on but none of these are difficult or really expensive. It’s not an option to not have a cyber presence?”

Jeremy Wisner: “The topic concerns the need for an ‘All singing/dancing’ website. For many SMEs, operating in specialist niches, it is questionable about the return on such a site. Absolutely, a solid and informative web presence is a must (largely for contact information and credibility). However, it is in the nature of many niche-SMEs that they will know who their potential customers are and will be cultivating B2B relationships via more direct approaches, rather than hoping to WOW website visitors. Niche products and services, by nature, often require specialised knowledge to explain to USP to potential buyers. Of course, retail is a whole different discussion.
90%+ will look online, yes. However, I’d argue that for the niche players, the hard yards have already been covered by the ‘song and dance’ created offline – backed up by effective SEO work – which again strengthens credibility.”

Adam Payne: “Disagree with you Jeremy, when I look at the SMEs including two that we were looking to acquire in a niche market, had limited website presence and no sales and marketing function, relying on word of mouth and guess how they were performing. If you are looking to expand your business you need an online presence, again as an example, recently I was supporting a company to try and source stretch forming, the search was not easy due to again lack of online presence and SEO setup, I ‘m sure to god there are businesses in the UK, but they missed a big opportunity. Now this is not my area, but if you are happy as a business then you stay as you are, but rest assured someone will be around the corner waiting to pounce if you are not bringing in customers, if you are looking to expand you need multiple marketing pillars and a top website is one of those with an inbound marketing approach (blog showing expertise, contact form with call to action, etc).”

Ashley Pearce: “This discussion thread has done a great deal in exposing the core beliefs that sit behind the reason / purpose / ultimate aim behind a website for a B2B Sales focused business.

The purpose of a website for B2C or retail is completely different. The website can have more to do with sales and sales fulfillment than it can with building the confidence of a prospect and developing a relationship.

Just because they look the same on the outside and are accessed via a web browser does not mean they are the “same thing”.

Fact 1: You are not going to receive sales through your company website in the manufacturing industry. You’re not selling products, you’re selling capability.

Fact 2: Buyers do their searching a researching online before EVER reaching out and asking for information, requesting a quote or expressing interest.

Lesson: If your website doesn’t start a conversation with the Buyers and Engineers visiting it, you will be overlooked…”

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Overall Equipment Effectiveness

A Good Place to Start for Productivity Improvements

OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is one of the main measures I use within a Manufacturing Business, but it can be adapted to service as well.

  • Does your production have bottlenecks you’re not aware of?
  • Could one machine be dragging down the entire facility?
  • Do you know if your equipment has excess capacity that could be easily and inexpensively tapped?

Overall Equipment Effectiveness Losses

OEE is simple and practical. It takes the most common sources of productivity loss and places them into three primary categories, it distils them into metrics that are an excellent gauge for where you are now and more importantly where you need to improve. There are other forms of effectiveness calculations for the supply chain, these are explained at the bottom of this article, but for now it’s back to OEE.

How we make O.E.E work?

  • Must be easy to use
  • All data must be accurate
  • Data must be easy to collect
  • Must involve all cell members
  • You need to react to the results

The three categories being:

  • Availability (%) – The percentage of the planned production time during which the cell could be productive.
  • Effectiveness (%) – The percentage of planned production time during which the cell was actually productive.
  • Quality (%) – The percentage of the total shift time that a cell is producing quality components.

For the Ultimate Productivity Swipe File – ‘click here

So how do we calculate OEE,


Total Shift Time – Planned Non Productive – Breakdowns – Changeovers – waiting / Total shift time – Planned Non Productive


Total Parts Produced x Cycle Time / Total Shift Time – Planned Non Productive – Breakdowns – Changeovers – waiting


Total Parts Produced –Scrap/Rework / Total Parts Produced

Overall Equipment Effectiveness Template

These three primary categories (as a percentage) multiplied together = OEE.

Total Shift Time 600mins
Planned Non Productive 60mins
Total Downtime 0mins
Waiting 20mins
Total Pats Produced 395
Cycle Time 1min
Scrap 89

Availability = 600-60-20 / 600-60 = 520 / 540 x 100 = 96%
Effectiveness = 395 / 520 x 100 = 76%
Quality = 395-89 / 395 = 306 / 395 x 100 = 77%

OEE = 96 x 76 x 77 = 56%

There are different ways to use the calculation within the supply chain, the following are examples

Goods Inwards

Components Available for use X On time Delivery Performance X Quality of Incoming Goods

Outgoing Performance

Customer Availability of Supplied Goods X Delivery Performance X Quality of Shipped Goods

Overall Supply Chain Effectiveness

You can also measure the supply chain from a Quality, Cost, Delivery point of view as well using OEE, OLE (Overall Logistics Effectiveness) and OPE (Overall Purchase Effectiveness) these three multiplied together forms the Overall Supply Chain Management Effectiveness.

World Class OEE

Rule of thumb states that World Class OEE levels are 85%. But industry average is spoken about at 60%, so room for improvement. How’s yours?

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First Impressions Count in Customer Service

When it comes to Customer Service, my opinion is first impressions count.

Recently I visited a Training company, their offices are based on a retail park that has two/three main car dealerships. Upon leaving the offices I decided to look around one of the dealerships used car sales. I parked up, put my coat on and went for a walk round. I have always thought about owning a 4×4 style vehicle (don’t ask me why….). After a couple of minutes a Salesman came out and asked if I was OK. I introduced myself and asked about the car. I was expecting an introduction back and the normal handshake. NOTHING!

So intrigued by this I made up a deal that I had been offered by another dealership and could they match it (not a big difference, match a part exchange and match the price, £500 difference on a price). The salesman shook his head and said I will have to see the manager, would you come to the office. When we entered the office the Salesman went straight to the Sales Managers Office and started to relay the (made up) offer I had been given. Again I was expecting the Sales Manager to come out, formal introductions, would you like a coffee (customer coffee machine in the office) but again NOTHING!

So at this point I had given them the biggest hint I was interested, match a price offering (not beat it) and we’ll go from there. What they had done is not introduce themselves or their company, not asked me my name or details and not even shook my hand. The manager didn’t even look up to acknowledge his salesman yet alone me…IT THIS GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR A POTENTIAL CUSTOMER?????

The Salesman came from his managers office handed me a piece of A4 paper folded in half and said come back to us if you’re not happy with your other offer. I walked from the office in absolute amazement, no handshake, no names, no one had taken my details and no one had tried to source an alternative vehicle. I unfolded the piece of paper to find a poor quality black and white print of the wrong car??????

That first impression is critical to building rapport, working relationships, personal dialogue and ultimately how both parties will move forward together. I am quite a direct down to earth sort of guy (anyone that knows me will know this), I pride myself on being a good listener, to ascertain and understand and above all polite, courteous and respectful at all times.

Regardless that they may have seen through my made up deal (but I doubt that) they had done nothing to ensure my experience was great and I would keep them in my thoughts for a future purchase. Imagine how it could potentially affect their sales if I had named them in this article? And do you think I will ever go back?

Remember first impressions do count in Customer Service.

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