Published: 27 January 2020

Achieving new impact in the traditional vintage automotive industry

Though it is a substantial market, employing just under 35,000 people in the UK, the vintage vehicle industry is currently facing many challenges including a supply chain which is becoming increasingly fragile.

A KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) between William Medcalf Limited (WML) and Surrey Business School’s Professor James Aitken has enabled the recognition and management of these issues, aiding the supply chain, improving reliability and reducing complexity which has led to business growth.

Through a lack of investment in skills and modern manufacturing processes the vulnerability of the supply chain, year-on-year, was becoming more evident to WML, a specialist in the refurbishment and rally preparation of 1930's Bentley automotive.

Professor Aitken has researched supply chain collaboration within the automotive sector since 2000, conducting several studies into the role of collaboration as a platform for improvement. Over the past 20 years, he has worked to develop a greater understanding of why firms, operating in the same supply chain, struggle to align their work practices to gain mutual benefits.

This project has directly led to commercial gains for WML and has demonstrated to the sector the role and impact of supply chain management in addressing the challenges of lead-time adherence.

The most significant areas of impact to WML have been:

Economic performance

  • Through the incorporation of new technology, WML expects to gain significant market share. As a result of the KTP collaboration, WML has grown its production capacity by 20% and achieved a 13% increase in turnover between 2016/17 and 2018/19. 

Productivity Gains

  • The value streams of WML were mapped to reduce complexity and improve planning. These changes impacted WML’s internal planning processes, focusing on the need to align suppliers with these value streams. The outcome of the supply chain alignment work and supplier development activities was a 10% increase in productivity of WML operations

Supply Chain Alignment

  • The research highlighted communication issues between suppliers and WML. Analysing the quality and delivery performance data led to the development of a "supplier management matrix" to support the management of resources and relationships. These changes and the application of this matrix led to a 14% enhancement in delivery performance, a substantive reduction in component issues as well as an improvement of workflow through the operations.  

New Product Innovation

  • Through the KTP collaboration and the analysis of supplier capabilities, WML has been able to capitalise on new technology within its business and the supply chain.


The University of Surrey offers businesses the opportunity to develop and validate new technologies and processes, gain critical insights into the challenges they face and to jointly find novel solutions. Find out more about the Knowledge Transfer Partnership Programme

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