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Investment means new jobs & productivity boost for flue manufacturer
A £250,000 investment by an award-winning Nottinghamshire manufacturer has boosted productivity by 30% over the last 12 months, which has led to the creation of eight new jobs since the start of the year.
A1 Flue Systems invested the money in new machinery, made key infrastructure upgrades to its factory in Ollerton, near Newark, and reconfigured the flow of its manufacturing assembly line as part of a programme of ongoing improvements.
The award-wining company – which is the UK market leader in the design, manufacture and installation of commercial and industrial chimney, flue and exhaust systems – has created jobs in its Manufacturing, Sales, Estimating and Installation Departments as a result of improving productivity and efficiencies.
Director TJ Duncan-Moir said that the rationale behind the reconfiguration has been to group processes into more-sequential sections so that there’s a better flow of products throughout the various stages of manufacture within the 54,000 sq. ft. factory.
“We work on more than 5,000 projects each year, and that can range from a simple replacement flue for a school boiler in Devon to a complete flue and chimney system for a skyscraper in Dubai, and an analysis of our complete manufacturing processes meant we were able to identify ways to increase our productivity,” said TJ.
She added: “For example, our multi-skilled employees had their own work areas and could produce a range of products, and they were often doing this to demand, usually to tight deadlines. However, we have moved to a layout of dedicated manufacturing zones for specific products – such as elbows, tees and flue pipe – which has alleviated a lot of the bottlenecks we had.
“The results have been dramatic, as we have been able to make more products in less time – which has been so important at a pivotal time for our business, where we have seen a huge uplift in project wins since Brexit. In the last half of 2016 alone, we saw a £1m increase in orders, due in part to the price hikes forced upon our competitors that have to import their products from Europe.
“All of this has enabled us to take on more staff across the different departments of our business and is giving us a stronger platform for more growth.”
Fellow Director John Hamnett added that a complete electrical rewire of the factory enabled the company to move machinery and accommodate a new plasma cutter.
“We have been astounded by just how much the rewire has given us the opportunity to reconfigure all the machinery in our factory to create new manufacturing zones,” he said.
“The new zones still enable us to utilise the talents of our multi-skilled workforce, it just means we can plan production more efficiently – especially as we have a lot of larger projects at the moment, and it’s vital that we manufacture them and get them to sites all around the world within the critical deadlines we have to work to.”
The family-run company is proud of the fact that it hasn’t borrowed money to fund the improvements and has instead ploughed profits back into the business to fund the new machinery, staff and factory upgrades.