Shaping operations for support

Glazerite UK Group’s northwest division MD Darren Rhodes discusses how measures being put in place at the Bolton site will improve productivity and customer service.

Glazerite’s Bolton site has been the subject of a series of major investments to better support our customers over recent years.

In addition to new equipment to improve our capabilities, we’ve doubled the size of the site and installed a new showroom, which is set to open later this month.

We have ambitious plans for growth, which we are rolling out in parallel with a programme designed to strengthen operational performance and customer service.

When I joined Glazerite in January this year, my first priority was to get to know the northwest team, and work out how we operate as a division and as part of the wider company.

Times are certainly difficult in our industry with the pressure of demand coupled with issues in the supply chain. The board is committed to continuous improvement and a programme is being driven through the business. We’ve been steadily rolling out a strategy to improve efficiencies here in Bolton to positively impact service levels, output, lead times, quality, and overall performance to help ease pressures where we can, but also get our house in best practice order.

The key metric for me, as in any business, is otif, and we have improved from less than 80% to over 95% in the last nine months. If it wasn’t for the issues around the supply chain, I am confident we would be around 98-99%.

As part of our overall group-wide approach to lean manufacturing, the Bolton team has been doing some work on 5S and workplace organisation. So far, nearly two-thirds of our workforce on the shopfloor have undergone basic training. They all understand what it is and how they play a part in it, and we’ve found many are now actively supporting and contributing to improvements.

We’ve also hugely improved traceability and communication across the site, with output boards in our production areas to track against hourly targets. Operational improvement is a two-way conversation and to that end we hold daily KPI reviews to track key performance metrics against relevant targets, and a longer meeting to go in-depth on our KPIs.

These catch-ups are held with our shopfloor teams, as well as purchasing, and the transport and warehouse teams where we track output at each stage of manufacture against target and status through to delivery loads for that night. As part of the meeting, we also capture any machine breakdowns, quality issues and daily otif, as well as any employee absences or holidays.

Each week, we’ll review areas like output, quality and otif, and go over any NCR issues. Quality is again reviewed in more detail at a monthly meeting, where we get to grips with any concerns from customers. This has really helped with improving our communications to customers at this critical time. Feeding back any issues/concerns at the earliest opportunity assists them with their scheduling.

Further areas we’ve implemented here at Bolton are around the reduction of slow moving and obsolete stock, and overall shop floor stock control, which gives us greater visibility of the consumables and profile available. Having greater control of our stock in this way reduces unplanned downtime and strengthens our overall performance. Environmental issues are addressed not only through our product offering but how we can do better in areas like recycling, including diverting waste away from landfill.

Another area we’ve done lots of work around, which directly impacts our customers, is how we deliver our products to keep them safe, with better packing protection for transportation. Sometimes it’s the simple things that really make a difference. Many of these improvement ideas have come from our staff.

All of the changes we’ve rolled out here are designed to make the site more efficient and more customer-focused, improving our service levels and strengthening our overall performance. While we’re proud with the progress we’ve made so far, it’s an ongoing process, and we are just at the start of our journey.