Halifax manufacturer improves efficiency by 25% to their advanced production facility | Manufacturing Growth Programme

Fan Systems Group Limited, have a world-wide manufacturing capability boasting one of the most advanced fan production facilities. Designing to order, they have wanted to streamline their processes whilst encouraging staff engagement.

Formed in 1950, Fan Systems Group Limited is a well-established manufacturer of high-quality industrial fans. Fan Systems became part of the WITT UK Group in 1993, and acquired Alldays Peacock in 2006, adding high pressure blowers and gas boosters to complement its extensive fan range. Now operating from an exceptional new site in Yorkshire, and with additional world-wide manufacturing capability, Fan Systems Group has one of the most advanced fan production facilities in the world.

R&D (research and development) forms an integral part of the Fan System’s operations, with particular emphasis on fan performance, noise and silencer interaction, as well as energy consumption. This intensive research has led to the development of a highly efficient range of fan units, providing significant energy savings to the industry.

Acknowledging that the business has faced some challenges, Managing Director Tim Barnes, reached out to the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) to access grant funding towards a business improvement project which analysed the process of their designed to order bespoke fan solutions.

Neil Kendall, Manufacturing Growth Manager for MGP conducted a GROWTHmapper business diagnostic review of the business which highlighted that the company had a clear plan of action to improve efficiency but needed help and support with the detail. Part of Tim’s motivation was that he was keen to demonstrate to staff that they had an important part to play.

The challenge that team faced was that the business had a process of designing to order which over time had evolved into a complex process which required a great deal of expert, detailed interpretation. This presented new and recent starters with a steep and long learning curve and impacted on their initial effectiveness.

The process of their bespoke designs needed to be reviewed and improved to ensure that Fan Systems produced great results first time, reducing waste arising from multi-level review processes.

With access to grant funding through MGP, Fan Systems engaged with an external business coach. The coach found that the process needed to be re-engineered based on the identification of a suite of easily codifiable and configurable components so that a tool could be developed to simplify and streamline the design process.

A business improvement project was set up to conduct the analysis of the design process, to determine and specify the business and design rules which underpin Fan Systems product offer and to build a prototype configuration tool to demonstrate the improvements that could be gained.

One of the outcomes of the project was the creation of a prototype configuration tool which highlighted significant future efficiencies and opportunities. The project saw some great successes with up to 25% efficiency in design time which included greater control and quality improvements, it also removed a huge amount of scope for human error, and it helped with staff motivation and engagement with the tool and processes.

Manufacturing Growth Manager Neil Kendall stated, “Paradoxically, this is a case whereby standardising a process, this gives a business much greater ability to design highly customised solutions, rather than off-the-shelf ranges. This niche ability is an area where many, many small and medium sized businesses derive their competitive advantage from, and business owners often take that source of competitive advantage for granted, given that they naturally do well what they have proved to be good at and built their business on over time. The challenge comes when you want to grow the business, how to scale it up?

“This is a great example of how to unlock the latent power of your business to translate hidden potential in the information, skills and staff that you already have into a really powerful source of competitive advantage that can help power your growth ahead of your competitors. Minimal investment – just a bit of management focus.

“Tim would agree that by standardising and systemising your business, it makes it far more valuable to shareholders and to a potential purchaser as the business is no longer as dependent on a bunch of individuals.”

Commenting on the project and support by MGP, Tim Barnes stated, ”We knew what we had to tackle and had some ideas about how to do so. MGP helped us in clarifying what we would focus on and how to get relevant financial support (and navigate the process for claiming it) which helped to trigger the project and ensure that we delivered it on a timely basis”

More details on Fan Systems Group Limited can be found at www.wittukgroup.co.uk/fan-systems/