A company that manufactures electronic devices that tell lorry and forklift drivers when they can't lift any more weight has just seen its profits improve thanks to the support of the region's manufacturing experts, the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS EM).
Loughborough Projects, a manufacturer of load indication systems based in Loughborough, Leicestershire, has reduced the manufacturing costs of its main component by approximately 12%.
The company, which sells to the construction industry's leading players in the UK, Europe and the US, including JCB and Caterpillar, wants to grow its business by 20% over the next three years. Its core product is an electronic progressive overload warning system that tells machinery drivers when they are close to or exceeding maximum allowable weight. This is a safety feature that's fitted to a range of lifting vehicles and some of Loughborough's devices are so sophisticated that they can shut down the machine's hydraulic system when the vehicle is overloaded.
The company called in MAS EM when it wanted to reduce the machining time for manufacturing the steel component that is core to the operation of the load transducer element. They wanted to see if they could not only do the process more quickly, but also examine whether machining was the best method for producing the part.
Loughborough Projects' technical manager Clive Bass said: “Until we used MAS, we hadn't heard of them which is unbelievable since they offer a service that manufacturers can't afford to miss. We were assigned two experts who managed a project each and we have been delighted with the outcome so far.
“With the first project, we wanted to look at ways of manufacturing our steel component and the practitioner, Richard Day investigated forging, casting and powder metallurgy. He managed to source a sub-contractor who could do the job and we have saved approximately 50 pence per unit. When you consider that we make approximately 16,000 a year, then it's a useful saving. We are now looking for similar results on the second project!”
The second project is looking at reducing production costs by using the principles of 'lean manufacturing'. MAS practitioner John Ransford said: “We are focusing our efforts on visual management. This is where we look at the shop floor and plan where stock should be so that the workers have the right products at the right time for assembly and don't waste time in visits to stores. We also make sure that the company isn't stockpiling which helps its cash flow considerably.”
Loughborough Projects was established in 1983 after evolving out of Loughborough University's Consultants team. It was since sold and went through a MBO in 2002. It now employs 30 people and is one of only four or five companies in the world that manufactures this niche product.
To find out more about how MAS could help your manufacturing business, call 01664 501301 or log on to www.mas-em.org.uk.