While politicians flounder, engineers prepare for Brexit

Louise Smyth

SMB Bearings has increased its capacity from 1.5 million bearings to 2.6 million bearings at its Oxfordshire warehouse. The increase in capacity has been planned to alleviate the pressures associated with European customers stockpiling bearings ahead of predicted Brexit shortages.

The specialist distributor, which exports 40% of its bearings to the European Union, is feeling the effect of Brexit fear among its customers. Manufacturers are stockpiling integral parts and components at the highest levels on record for a major advanced economy, as reported by The Guardian earlier this year. Major companies have built up stock levels that ensure they can continue production if international trade is restricted.
SMB Bearings has increased its bearing inventory by 73%, ensuring it is as prepared as it can be to supply European customers. Requiring changes to the facilities warehouse shelving structure, this increase has not happened overnight, but rather is the result of months of preparation and planning for market volatility.
“We are already taking orders for next autumn,” explained Chris Johnson, managing director of SMB Bearings. “While a mass Armageddon of bearing supply after Brexit is unlikely, we can’t blame our customers for wanting to build reserves for their own production lines and avoid potential delays.
“As a business, we’re used to riding the waves of bearing sales booms. We’ve seen a similar spike in demand for thin section precision bearings, with the increase in robotics manufacturing. As European customers worry about a mass shortage after Brexit, our extensive stock will act as a buffer, to ensure they can still have access to bearings in their supply chain.”
In addition to this inventory increase, SMB Bearings is currently in the process of achieving Authorised Economic Operator for Customs (AEOC) status, which will enable more efficient imports and exports. 


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