Enterprise and economic development report

Simple connections, better return

BuySupplyNI, the online portal aimed at simplifying the process of connecting manufacturing, engineering and construction companies to potential suppliers across Northern Ireland, has proved its worth since its launch in February 2020.

Developed by companies on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Manufacturing Task Force (MTF), the Northern Ireland-wide portal has been linking local buyers and suppliers as part of their business-as-usual operations. Since June, it has been helping them navigate issues brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic through establishment of a dedicated PPE buy and supply section.

For buyers, the benefits of using the portal include reduced costs of sourcing materials and components, improved procurement speed and efficiency, as well as reduced lead times for delivery.

For suppliers, the benefits include the potential to increase sales, opening direct lines of communication with buyers and developing the capacity to meet current demand and plan for future needs.

Graham Whitehurst, Chair of the MTF, comments: “Responding to a clear need identified by our Manufacturing Task Force, the BuySupplyNI portal has helped increase the responsiveness of procurement by assisting in the identification of local suppliers. This is just one of a number of initiatives the MTF has developed over the last six months.

“Covid-19 has highlighted the requirement for companies to diversify and forced many industries and businesses to augment their operating models and practices. Part of this has been the rethinking of their supply chain and procurement strategies and in recent months we have seen the portal play a key role in this.”

BuySupplyNI had the flexibility to adapt quickly and proactively during the initial Covid-19 outbreak. It proved itself as a means to link buyers with suppliers to access PPE and products needed to ensure the safety of employees and customers, especially as businesses returned to work.

Featuring dedicated areas where manufacturers and distributors of PPE and other relevant products can register and upload the products they can supply or detail the products they require, BuySupplyNI facilitated instant connections which ultimately led to reduced times for buyers searching for suppliers.

Over 600 organisations across Northern Ireland are now registered on the portal, including Ryobi Aluminium Castings (UK) Ltd.

Christine McGrath, the firm’s materials manager, outlines how beneficial the portal has been: “By sourcing materials at a local level, cumbersome and expensive logistics are taken out of the equation and lead times are greatly reduced. Ryobi has benefited by saving time and money in sourcing products through BuySupplyNI, all the while helping local suppliers expand their customer base.”

With supply chains across the world being drastically impacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, McGrath believes BuySupplyNI has unlimited future potential.

“Whilst we source materials from overseas markets, including the US, Asia and Europe, it will be increasingly important for us as a business to source at a more local level, especially in a post-pandemic and post-Brexit world. Ryobi is now introducing BuySupplyNI at an internal level and steering our suppliers towards it as well.”

Commenting on the firm’s commitment to the platform, McGrath adds: “Part of our aim is to help support the local economy and that’s something we can achieve with BuySupplyNI.”

One such supplier that McGrath has helped to bring on board the portal is leading distributor of industrial maintenance, repair and overhaul products, Brammer. Managing Director Ciarán Hallinan explains how the portal has benefitted them: “BuySupplyNI has allowed us to open up communication channels with organisations that we didn’t know existed, yet alone engaged with before. That, coupled with the ability to provide better insight into our own procurement pipeline for the future, has proven to be very beneficial to us.”

To find out more about BuySupplyNI, visit www.buysupplyni.com.

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