Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Training sheds light on lamp-making efficiency
Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 40, Issue 4.
An Essex-based business that had been successfully making vehicle lighting for more than 80 years had to change the way it worked to remain cost-effective.
Flexible Lamps Ltd (FL), of Harlow, which also has sites in Suffolk and France, moved away from the traditional production line to multi-skilled teams.
The change, which has brought benefits to the company, was achieved through a training program that has involved the entire workforce since 1999, and led the business to a UK National Training Award.
FL needed to change its production methods to compete in the global market, which it has supplied with lighting for trucks, trailers, buses, and building and farming vehicles, since 1924. It needed to streamline its production by creating flexible team working to replace workshops and assembly lines.
The company developed a new reward structure, new job roles and extensive training to reduce staff by natural wastage and redeployment.
Janis Cording, training and development manager, said:
In 1999 our production staff either worked in a molding/plastics workshop operating a single piece of equipment or on an assembly line, performing a single step in the production of a product. Their work was both repetitive and lacked the rewards of ownership.
Despite some staff concerns, we needed our people to understand and apply various skills and abilities to undertake multiple tasks, such as multiple manufacturing processes, resolving problems quickly, rotating jobs and effective work planning.
The program taught staff a new range of skills. It created 31 multi-skilled teams, known as cells. They learned in their teams to: design the layout of their cell; read technical drawings and identify quality issues; operate multiple hand tools, molding and welding equipment; use computers to plan and update records; and work together as a team.
More than 20 teams have gained National Vocational Qualifications at level two. The cells operate a “just in time” delivery system for supplies, reducing stockholding.
“Despite a small training department of two staff, we have completed 15,000 training events at a cost of £366,000 and sourced funding to the value of a further £630,000 to support our training and development work,” said Janis Cording. “FL has been transformed from a traditional manufacturer to a leader in the field of lean working and continuous improvement.”