Filon is a leading manufacturer of Glass Reinforced Polyester (GRP) – most commonly seen in fibreglass roofing. The company’s production output had plateaued in recent years so it engaged Skills Training UK in October 2013 for training which would instil the Kaizen management and efficiency philosophy.
Kaizen is one part of the Business Improvement Techniques (BIT) Apprenticeship and it centres on the idea of continuous improvement. In one of the projects undertaken by the staff – an investigation into the vast level of waste during a stage of the production process – they found an immediate way to make substantial savings. On one order alone, the team behind the project were able to save over £1000. With the likelihood that similar savings could be made regularly, Filon says it is already seeing tangible results of the Kaizen techniques materialise in the workplace.
As John Charles, Deputy Production Manager, says, “we’re doing things now that I can’t believe we weren’t doing 10 years ago.’’
The changes implemented by Filon as a result of the training include the establishment of a Continuous Improvement Team, which is exactly the kind of cultural change that Skills Training UK and Kaizen seek to affect. As Craig pointed out: “If the staff can come up with ideas, it will be easier to sustain them.”
Craig Bainbridge, Production Manager at Filon, continued:
‘We have a suggestion scheme that’s been dormant for years but is now up and running again. The Managing Director has said that since we started this training there’s been suggestion after suggestion.’”
Of Filon’s 73 staff, 25 opted to undertake Skills Training UK’s Business Improvement Techniques programme – a 12 month bespoke programme tailored to the needs of each company and their staff. As Craig stated, “I can’t thank Skills Training UK enough. It’s been completely painless on our part. Half the time I don’t even know they’ve been in. They know the drill, and having trainers that come from a manufacturing background has really helped.”
The training has empowered the staff to know that they can contribute, whereas before the culture here was ‘well, you’re the manager, you come up with all the ideas – that’s what you’re paid for.
Craig Bainbridge, Production Manager, Filon
Paul first joined Filon in 1990 and though he’s seen a lot of people come and go, all had one thing in common – the way they were trained.
Through a combination of received wisdom and on-the-job guesswork, Filon’s staff had developed an informal yet comprehensive training routine which, though functional, was hardly optimal.
Thanks to Skills Training UK, however, that’s all changed. ‘’We were just doing things day-in day-out how we’d been told to do it. Now we’ve learnt Kaizen and completed the training, it’s making things a lot easier at Filon.
‘‘When I first went in I thought, ‘What have I let myself in for?’ but the way Kaizen is explained to you – it opens your eyes up.’’
Paul’s thoughts were echoed by colleague Andrew Daykin, 2nd Operations, who said ‘Before, it was just organised chaos. It’s much easier for us now.’
And, as Paul has come to realise, the benefits of the training don’t extend only to the factory gates. ‘‘It’s not just the workplace you’re looking at – you start noticing other things and thinking, ‘I could improve that’.’’