One of the UK’s largest engineering support services groups has teamed up with the Manufacturing Advisory-West Midlands (MAS-WM) service to launch a new regional cluster.

Babcock International Group, which delivers asset support to the defence, transport, energy and telecommunications sectors, believes SC21 – the specialist programme for the aerospace and defence industries – offers an opportunity to manage its complex supply chain.

More than 30 suppliers from the region heard keynote presentations from the company and MAS-WM, with the latter announcing a £1m funding pot for firms keen to make the commitment.

Andy Chapell, head of supply chain capability development at Babcock, said: “As a leading support service provider, we see the supply chains in the 21st Century programme as forming a significant and fundamental part of our wider supply chain management.”

He continued: “SC21 encourages greater collaboration, which is why we wanted to introduce this regional cluster approach so that we can work with our suppliers from the outset on improving all aspects of our engagement.”

Babcock, which turns over £1.9bn, is the major industrial support partner to the Royal Navy. It provides integrated operational support and military flying training to the Royal Navy and RAF and is a chosen support partner of the British Army.

It is anticipated that SC21 will help to continually improve quality and on-time delivery performance, potentially generating significant performance and cost improvements throughout its supply chain in the process.

MAS-WM’s Cliff Johnson added: “This event is crucial for companies in the Babcock supply chain, who want to discover how they can deploy processes leading to world class performance, so critical to the defence sector generally.

“By forming an SC21 cluster, not only can we support and nurture them as a group, but suppliers can also position themselves to win future business in an ever increasing competitive market.”

West Midlands companies involved in the cluster can access individual grants of up to £20,000 to help them deploy the SC21 programme, which is funded by Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund and is delivered by MAS-WM.

Once a commitment has been made to participate in the programme, an experienced adviser will arrange for a series of business diagnostics to be carried out within the company, which will help identify where it is now and what it needs to do to work towards globally competitive performance via the SC21 programme.