One of the UK’s leading designers and manufacturers of office furniture is increasing its production capacity by 40 per cent and will improve productivity by a quarter with the help of experts from the Manufacturing Technology Centre.
Flexiform, which has been manufacturing office furniture in the UK for more than 40 years, will be able to satisfy its fast-growing order book without the need for a significant and costly expansion to its manufacturing facility.
An SME team from the MTC’s Manufacturing Support Services operation, based in Coventry and Liverpool, worked with managers and operators from Flexiform, helping them develop a plan which increases capacity by 40 per cent, with an additional surge capacity of 20 per cent, without increasing the site footprint.
The multi-million investment, together with changes in working practices, will help increase productivity by 25 per cent, with a significant reduction in operational lead time. A new factory layout, combined with the introduction of appropriate new technology will allow the company to achieve the improvements required in a five-day working week rather than seven days.
Flexiform, which has its manufacturing facility in Bradford as well as showrooms and hubs around the UK, supplies its office furniture and storage solutions to major companies around the UK including Fox Media, Greggs, E.ON, Kier, Admiral and HS2.
MTC engineers, working with Flexiform management and employees, mapped out the manufacturing facility to identify issues, site constraints and bottlenecks. A new layout was designed to cope with existing requirements and future growth, and new manufacturing methods and technology identified.
Flexiform managing director Nick Hewitt said the outcome of working with the MTC was that capital expenditure could be focused on value-adding assets rather than expensive increases in the site footprint.
“I found the MTC invaluable in this process, guiding us, educating us and keeping us true to our goals at all times. The resulting transformational plan has now been communicated to our employees and project teams set up to deliver the result. This has generated a real buzz and engagement around the business. I would highly recommend that all business leaders take time out, engage with the MTC, and work with them to develop a strategic improvement plan for their businesses,” he said.
Dean Baker, director of the MTC’s Business Launch Centre and Manufacturing Support Services team, said the work with Flexiform had demonstrated how MTC teams could use their expertise to improve productivity and competitiveness in established SMEs.
“We were delighted to help Flexiform, one of the many SMEs we are working with, to improve their processes and productivity and maintain a successful and sustainable business. We were able to employ a hub and spoke model, using MTC experts from our Coventry and Liverpool bases.”
Based in the MTC’s Sopwith Building the Manufacturing Support Services team works with SMEs to improve productivity and processes. They have access to the MTC’s world-class advanced manufacturing and research facilities, as well as the MTC’s team of engineering and manufacturing experts.
The team has worked with more than 500 SMEs, and at any one time has more than 150 live projects.
The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.
The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.
Pictured: Manufacturing operations at Flexiform