Universal Arches News

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Arching Our Way to World Class Standards

Lets face it, all companies are in the business for making money, but it is the products/services, processes and methodologies within each one that sets them apart from others. Profit is not a dirty word but the result of activities typically involving resources and employees to satisfy a particular customer demand.

World Class Manufacturing is a collective term for the most effective means of providing products of a consistent high quality, delivered on time and in full and manufacturing these products at the lowest possible cost level. Within the glazing industry there are many companies operating to these standards and typically they are some of the most successful. Yet for the bending sector this is harder to achieve given the bespoke nature of our products, as we cannot harness the latest cutting and machining centres and other automated equipment.

Within the bending sector I would suggest that we certainly achieve the first criteria for World Class Manufacturing and our products I believe are the best in the industry in this regard, something also noted by our customers and peers in the industry including the likes of Residence 9 and Thomas Sanderson. We’ve done much to employ 3D computer modeling for the manufacture of each bespoke frame, which eliminates the manual task of drawing out a template and means we can make the most complex of shaped frames to within just a few millimeters. Product quality is at the very core of what we do.

Given our growth over the last 2 years we have at times creaked a little, but the recent investments in software, plant and machinery and in our premises have done much to improve this and will continue to do so, as we look to excel in all business operations. As the only company in the bending sector with ISO9001:2008, our processes also define our business, which is now 21 years old, during which time several bending companies have fallen by the wayside.

Reducing cost in our business is something that we’ve been looking at for a number of years and this involves everything from reducing scrap rates to helping to cut down the cost of our utilities. Yet the new software system for our sales, customer service and production functions has been a complete revelation.

We’ve been able to automate and streamline the order processing and production management processes and freed up man-hours, particularly for the customer service department. At any given minute in the day we can find out where we are up to in terms of production and other customer service operations.

It’s now easy for us to assess what orders are going through production, so we can ensure delivery schedules are kept accurate, while invoices are sent out automatically, without all the sticking and licking of envelopes that we’ve had to carry out in the past. We can also automatically notify customers when their deliveries are going out and can advise on whether it’s on our own fleet or through the local dedicated distribution partner, that we’ve successfully brought on board.

From a production perspective, we can batch orders based on time and other production capabilities and generate the manufacturing information in real time. There’s live tracking throughout all these new automated processes, so it’s easy for us to assess where we are up to that day and whether there have been any delays or issues. Our customers are already beginning to see the benefits, while we’ve streamlined processes internally to free up time to focus even more on our customers.

In addition, the systems also provide us with a lot of good information for the measurement and betterment of the business, which has grown immeasurably over the last 2 years. We’re now in a position where we are manufacturing over 250 individually made, shaped frames each week and the implementation of this new system has been the perfect opportunity for us to look at all processes within the business.

This new system is now running well and the staff are fully trained in all of its aspects, but it’s also the means in which we can improve further. While we may not be able to claim World Class Manufacturing standards yet, this realisation may not be that far away if we continue to assess and improve in what we do across all aspects of the business.

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