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Cox Marine and the COVID supply chain

Jerry Attridge, operations director at Cox Powertrain, discusses bringing all production lines in-house…

Brexit and COVID have presented an evolving list of challenges to the British superyacht industry. With an increasingly complex supply chain, manufacturers need to be dynamic. As Jerry Attridge, operations director at Cox Powertrain, reflects, “It takes a long time to build a reputation and 5 minutes to lose it.”

Despite some hesitancy from the demanding superyacht tender market around the performance of diesel outboards, they are becoming a more common feature on large tenders, with the many benefits of removing volatile petrol storage onboard overcoming some of the industry’s misgivings around the perceived performance trade-off.

Cox Marine began production of the CXO300 diesel outboard in May 2020. However, the pandemic has significantly impacted the British diesel manufacturer’s supply chain – particularly the delivery of the major component, the PTT (power, tilt and trim) system. To resolve this, Cox Marine has decided to bring the production of the PTT in-house to its headquarters, located in Shoreham-By-Sea, UK. This enables Cox to keep the production of all sub-assemblies in-house.

Hugh Hudleston, Head of Sales, Cox Powertrain, comments, “The pandemic has clearly had a long-term effect on the global supply chain, and this has also affected the marine market. The decision to bring the PTT line in-house is a very positive step for Cox as a business as it allows us to maintain control and keep up with the demand of the 300hp diesel outboard engine while also minimising the potential for supply delays.”

For the uninitiated in manufacturing, myself included, Attridge, explains the Cox Maritime process in more detail. “The approach we have adopted is a manufacturing method called 'no-fault forward'; every step is automatically fed back into a system. For instance, whenever we tighten a bolt, the torque wrench will wirelessly feedback into the system, and if it reads 24-newton meters instead of 25, for example, the system will not allow the engine to move to the next step.”

As Attridge continues, the decision to bring the last of the assembly in-house fits the wider philosophy at Cox Marine.  “That mentality is built into our whole production line, and I'm very proud of the production line that we have here. We have to make sure that everything we send out is of the best quality possible. That's why we decided we needed to have the same level of control over the entire system.”

To be ‘made’ somewhere carries connotations, with many manufacturers taking care to disguise the origin of supply chains and fiercely protect the perception surrounding the country of origin. But as discussed with Attridge, the reality of manufacturing is that any successful manufacturer must utilise all of the resources and play to strengths to present the highest quality product at the most competitive price point.

“We don’t machine our castings; we know exactly how we want them made, so we use a company that does casting for Ford and McLaren; they are the experts in that, This can make the product expensive, but we want to go for quality first, and we will figure out the cost-saving later.”

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Are British manufacturers adjusting to the twin threats of COVID & Brexit?

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