Investing to support installer customers

Darren Rhodes, managing director of Glazerite North West, shares how effective operations and a committed workforce are at the core of the firm’s mission to support its customers.

With nearly £1million of investments already this year across the Group, our installers are reaping the benefits of a fabricator-partner focused on increasing capacity, capability and quality for the long term.

Of course, this can only be delivered if we have the right people and the right mix of products and solutions to set us apart and support our installers in their own markets.

Our North West Division in Bolton manufactures 1,000 frames per week from our Veka portfolio. We have recently installed a Stuga ZX5S sawing and machining centre and a Pertici V-Notch saw at the site, with a new Pertici double head mitre saw being installed later this month. Combined, these assets are already boosting service and quality for our customers.

Meanwhile our East Division in Peterborough has a new Pertici double head mitre saw while our Wellingborough-based Midlands Division has taken receipt of a DIGI-X Auto Bead Saw and Urban corner cleaner. Our Specials Division, also in Wellingborough, has doubled its capacity to produce the Veka Imagine vertical slider and our Residence Collection R9 and R7 portfolio, which will further benefit our installers offering heritage styles.

We have seen a real improvement of late in terms of raw materials and labour, which means the installation of our new machines could not have come at a better time. Alongside improved productivity, new assets and better technology have helped us to lower maintenance costs and increase energy efficiency while boosting uptime and reducing unplanned maintenance.

The deployment of a preventative maintenance programme has been central to operational efficiencies and is underpinned by the work our teams are doing to embed Continuous Improvement processes at every site, particularly 5S and Lean Manufacturing practices.

Improvements to our IT systems, including process control and stock management, enable real time information on production status of jobs and live stock data of all raw materials and components.

Our health and safety manager, Frank Lobb, helps us run a tight ship when it comes to rolling out health & safety processes and procedures across the Group. Frank has introduced H&S reps at each site, alongside monthly H&S meetings to review progress and discuss how we can better engage with our peers in the business, and our customers and suppliers.

It’s important that each of our sites has clear visibility of the day ahead, and to achieve this, each Division kicks off with a review of the previous day’s attainment to plan, as well as deliveries, orders, supply, quality, any staff absence, and H&S and maintenance issues. This is followed by further production meetings to review the progress of orders in order to meet the delivery plan for the next day.

One recent introduction that is helping us drive productivity, visibility and quality is our Courier Mobile Delivery Scanning system, which is used by our delivery drivers. It is an upgrade on the barcode scanning system we previously used and has led to improvements in terms of connectivity, flexibility and ease of use.

We now have the ability to photograph products linked to specific customer orders before, during and after delivery.

When it comes to our people, training remains high on our agenda, and we have a comprehensive training matrix for every department. A flexible and agile workforce is essential in today’s environment; by multi-skilling our employees we can cover absence, holidays, and increases or decreases in product-specific demand.

This enables us to manage our costs and gives our employees access to career development pathways and rewards. It means we also have the flexibility to move our skilled employees around the shopfloor without impacting on quality or service.

Everything we do internally is for the benefit of our customers. And with even more investment in the pipeline, we won’t stop there.