Shaping Up for Manufacturing Excellence
Universal Arches has undergone a period of investment, not just in terms of capital equipment, but in a software solution that is already revolutionising their business. Leon Day, managing director of the bending specialist explains more…
It’s been a decade now that I’ve been involved in the bending sector, during which it’s fundamentally changed from the reduction in lead times, use of 3D computer modelling for templates and to the way in which we deliver our product. It’s not only the shop floor that has had to change their way of thinking and manufacturing products under our ISO9001:2008 remit, but more recently the way in which we process orders throughout the business from enquiry to delivery.
The business operations of any company in the bending sector can seem relatively complex, but we must consider the nature of the bespoke products that we make. We’re in the business of making the most exacting and complex of shapes and so the large automated lines of the large PVCu manufacturers are a stark contrast to our individual production methodologies. Many of these companies also work under World Class Manufacturing principles, something that we’re getting ever closer to.
By definition, World Class Manufacturing is a collective term for the most effective means of providing products to a consistent high quality, delivered on time and in full and manufacturing these products at the lowest possible cost level. Our product quality has never been questioned and remains something I’m passionate about, while our pioneering use of 3D modeling has done much to take out nearly 90% of the manual templates, which have been the basis for the bending sector for many years.
Our On Time In Full performance will move from good to great in the coming months as we yield the benefits of our new system, whilst we’ve always employed a tight reign on costs within the business, particularly given the unprecedented growth in the last 3 years. Scrap rates are monitored, utility costs are tightly negotiated and even our delivery costs are carefully assessed.
Having recently purchased the premises from the landlord we are now able to make changes to the fabric of the building and we’ve done that already, along with putting further equipment into the factory. But the overriding change has been in the way we’ve been able to streamline the ordering processing function and automate production management processes.
The customer service and order processing departments have been arguably our busiest business functions, yet now we’ve been able to free up hours within this function, which means speedier response times and more exacting information to customers about their order and delivery dates. For the process of managing the business, we have real time tracking, by which we can assess where we are up to in terms of production and other business functions at any point during the day.
We can accurately assess what’s planned for production and delivery, so we can notify customers and send out invoices automatically, which in comparison to the manual processes previously employed is a real change for the better. Customers are now automatically notified when their deliveries are going out and whether it’s from one of our vehicles or through our local distribution partner. It’s fundamental and accurate information for the customer that you’d expect from an online business and this most exacting detail has benefitted everyone.
While our customers experience the big improvement in front end communications, we also benefit greatly from a production perspective in that we can now batch orders based on time and other criteria and assess this through live tracking, which permeates through everything we do in terms of business operations.
We’re looking for manufacturing and service excellence across the business and have done much to raise standards in the bending sector. But I now believe our footprint as a manufacturing company is much larger as we look to really believe in World Class Manufacturing and service excellence.
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