Hi-Tech Worcestershire Based IQHQ Ltd Access Two MGP Improvement Projects as New Contract Raises New Challenges | Manufacturing Growth Programme

Worcestershire business IQHQ Ltd specialises in the design and manufacture of communications systems for the Ministry of Defence and military applications.

The rapidly expanding company won a contract to manufacture batches of high-spec military radios. Having previously only produced prototypes they have had to create a larger manufacturing area. To get into full product production they relocated part of the business to new premises to free up space to create the manufacturing facility.

A £3000 grant was awarded to IQHQ from the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP), an amount which helped them to perform planning to acquire an ISO9001 Accreditation. IQHQ have now gained their ISO9001 Accreditation and have also improved their quality systems.

Managing Director of IQHQ, Neil Bourhill, said: “This is a key step for us as a business, as we need to gain that credibility as we enter into the supply chain. Already, large multinationals who are just starting to engage with us are making inquiries about our accreditation levels.

The government believing in SME businesses in the UK, has been supported through a wide range of investment; including the Manufacturing Growth Programme. “Increased investment towards the SME community from government, realising that the SME community represents high value for money and provides high innovation.” Said Neil.

A strategic business review (SBR) was carried out by Manufacturing Growth Manager (MGM), Catherine Bray, of the Manufacturing Growth Programme. This identified the priorities for business improvement in productivity and capacity, and continuous improvements. The project was of such value to the business that a second project was arranged to assist the business to flourish after they won their biggest contract as a result of their first project.

IQHQ’s sales have looked very positive, with Neil stating that the company’s sales have grown 20% year-on-year. One of the factors, Neil, believes is driving this growth is the increased investment from the government as stated above, along with the increased awareness of the company’s technology and the capabilities of the team, among the customer base, and the fact that their technology is becoming closer to being a saleable product.

These positive year-on-year increases have enabled IQHQ to inject more money back into the business; investing in multiple areas of the company. Areas where they have invested include: manufacturing test equipment, including thermal test chambers, shock and vibration test equipment, anti-static flooring, PCB rework equipment and automatic test equipment for testing their products, in-house on the assembly line.

As well as investing in multiple pieces of state-of-the-art machinery and equipment, IQHQ have also invested in a second Apprentice, in January 2019. This adds to the increase of Apprenticeships in the UK, with a whopping 217,100 people enrolling in the UK last year.

As a result of the SBR it was agreed that the improvement project’s focus would be on the development and expansion of manufacturing capability to increase capacity. The project included an assessment of current processes and manufacturing facility requirements, followed by the design factory size and layout, development of process sheets and assembly methodology. The result of the projects was a fully-operational manufacturing facility. Another result of the initial project was that the company won a contract for software development of communication links. This is the biggest single contract that the company had secured, worth over £750,000.00.

To ensure successful delivery of the new contract, IQHQ Ltd, accessed a second MGP project to engage external expertise which provided strategic guidance and support throughout the design phase and manufacturing of the new software development contract. The project also assisted the business to fund work in the new manufacturing facility to monitor and review production and employ LEAN processes where required to ensure quality and productivity can be sustained.

The Manufacturing Growth Manager, for this project was Catherine Bray. She said: “This was a very rewarding project to be a part of. Neil, and the IQHQ team were very focused on the project which really enhanced the project experience to ensure a successful delivery of the programme. Obtaining their ISO9001 Accreditation will benefit them greatly, and I wish them the best of luck going forward.”

More details on IQHQ Limited can be found at www.iqhq.co.uk