After five years of rapid and sustained growth, AET faced a number of challenges and identified significant increases in non-value added activities and an inefficient shop floor layout as barriers to the continued success of the company.
AET’s unrelenting pursuit of operational excellence required a radical review of the factory’s layout and together, in conjunction with consultants from the Manufacturing Advisory Service, a factory flow analysis highlighted excessive movement of materials and people. Various plans were drawn and explored with all options considered. Eventually, the future factory state was agreed and the team began the process of implementing the change. As Operations Director Andy Richards explained “It was clearly critical that the business continued to operate as safely and smoothly as possible through the transformation so robust planning was essential to ensure the project’s success”.
The revised factory layout required the installation of a new fast acting roller door which provided access to the heart of the shop floor together with the relocation of a number of departments including the enhanced sheet steel storage area, final finishing and assembly as well as the re-location of a number of press brakes. In addition to this, the new layout also allowed AET to establish a designated area where complex assemblies are pre-kitted prior to delivery into the fabrication bay.
Whilst a lot of the preparations could run alongside AET’s day-to-day business, the bulk of the changes took place over a single weekend. ‘It was a huge undertaking to do so much in such a short space of time and we’re all delighted with both the end result and huge effort made by the team’ reflected Andy.
Looking back, analytical measures that were recorded before and after the change clearly indicate the project’s success including an 81% decrease in search time for parts, and a 25% increase in utilised floor space and these are a testimony to the project’s undertaking. AET are now well on the way with the second phase of improvements which involves the exterior space on site. External racking has been installed which has virtually doubled the usable space available, and a second entrance has been developed to facilitate a safety conscious one-way system for delivery vehicles through the site.
In summary, Andy adds “Everyone from the senior management team to the shop floor production staff has recognised the need to change, improve safety and think smarter – the route to operational excellence is not just about improving production efficiency, it’s also about developing people”.