A CREATIVE APPROACH TO BUSINESS
So you’re looking for a sheet metalworking company, how do you tell which is the one for you? They’re all the same after all… aren’t they?
Imagine a sheet metal engineering company without a separate inspection depar tment, where employees don’t have set hours each week or month. Where ‘troubled’ teenagers are actively sought as recruits. Where people on the shop floor have the same input into the direction of the company as “the management”. Hold that thought!
Now imagine a sheet metal engineering company with consistently faster turnaround than the others. Where quality is dependably high.
Where communication is considered crucial, so you always know what’s going on with your job. Where the computer system that runs the company, the estimating system, the CAD drawings and the machines is not just integrated, it’s a single program custom built, specifically for the task. Where even the van driver can talk knowledgably about your job and your requirements.
Believe it or not, both descriptions are of the same company. Dutton Engineering, of Sandy in Bedfordshire, is a sheet metal working company with a creative approach to business.
Following extensive research into a number of management methods such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Kaizen continuous improvement, Just in Time (JIT ) & Kanban inventor y management and Statistical Process Control (SPC), it has developed a unique approach to production processes, par ticipative management and collaboration with customers and suppliers that results in:
A survey conducted by an independent company asked buyers of sheet metalwork, “What do you consider are the most important qualities of using a metal fabrication or laser cutting company?”
• The first stage is your request for a price. Drawings may be sent by post, email or fax, or one of the directors will meet you to discuss the project and collect your drawings. It may be a 3-D computer generated drawing, a draughtsman’s drawing or a scribble on the back of an envelope. New customers are encouraged to visit Dutton’s factory at Sandy and to work with one of our CAD design team to discuss and approve the drawing(s). If your product is totally unique, it can be difficult for you to know where to start. Dutton offers a consultancy service (for an up-front fee) to work with you to find the best way forward and create a prototype. Under this arrangement the design will remain your property. At this stage, we’ll ask you how much you are expecting to pay and tell you if it can be done for that price. Of course, sometimes a job is so urgent that it has to be started immediately – many customers are happy to proceed with production and worry about the cost later, as they know that Dutton’s price will be fair. You can ask for a price with or without delivery, in case you wish to collect the finished item(s), whatever is most appropriate for you and your project.
• Once it’s approved by you, the drawing will be analysed using Dutton’s software. Any changes to the design or material, which may simplify the manufacturing process and reduce the unit cost, will be identified at this stage. It is also checked for clashes with other components. The other processes that are required for the item are also considered, as there may be cost savings available at Dutton. A typical example is a component that used to be sent to a dedicated laser cutting company, who polished the surfaces before it was received by Dutton for painting. Dutton pointed out that they could laser cut the item, polish it and paint it automatically as part of the same process at no extra cost, cutting down machine time and transport costs, as well as delivering the item more quickly.
• All employees are responsible for self-inspection to ensure that quality is built in and checked at every step in the production process. Often this happens automatically: for example, whenever an airgun is used to fix a stud, a torque test is carried out simultaneously. The team will also check every tenth item for compliance with the drawing.
• Although each component is self inspected as it is manufactured, an extra end of line final inspection is carried out as an added guarantee that you will receive a zero defect product that meets your quality standards in every respect. Many of our clients, as a result, have eliminated their own inspection departments, and regard Dutton’s end of line inspection as THEIR final inspection before the product is shipped. This again can save you considerable time and money.
• Delivery is usually by one of Dutton’s own vans, giving you the chance to talk to someone from the company with the item in front of you. Deliveries work to a zoning schedule to minimise cost, which means you may be contacted to see if an early or late delivery is acceptable. Otherwise, a special delivery will be arranged.
Due to recent expansion, we are looking to recruit experienced people for the following vacancies: