Darron SBO

Founded in 1969, Darron SBO manufactures and supplies a range of high quality components to the gas and oil industries. Its Rotherham site employs around 100+ people, many of whom have in-depth knowledge of advanced engineering materials. In September 2000 Darron became part of the Schoeller-Bleckmann group, helping to strengthen its position through investing in modem machine tools and manufacturing capabilities.

“LBS have been critical in enabling us to achieve our ambitious sales targets, which have far exceeded expectations.””

Richard Rhodes, Manufacturing Manager

Overview, process and achievements

Overview: To satisfy increasing customer and shareholder demands, the company needed to improve its production planning process, reduce machine downtime and scrap reduction activities in manufacturing areas. Darron’s management team therefore took the decision to begin laying the foundations for a strategic culture change programme across the business. They invited Lean Specialist Kerry Cochran of Lean Business Solutions to work alongside them and help identify improvements to their current manufacturing processes. In particular, the role of LBS was to eliminate any wasted activity and to assist in ensuring a “right first time” culture. Kerry developed with the company the philosophy of working with KPIs and moving away from a tradition to a challenging culture.

Process: To begin the programme of work Kerry Cochran worked with the management team to map the overall process of sales to production and establish a more steamlined flow. This highlighted a number of opportunities for improvement, resulting in the shop floor being loaded and planned in single piece flow methodology, which reduced work in progress. A visual planning system was then developed to further improve the flow of material and provide a standard approach to the ‘visual workspace’ across the organisation.A number of ‘Kaizen’ quality improvement teams were put into place to work on quality and delivery issues. This has seen the culture of the business slowly change, as more employees have begun to show a renewed enthusiasm for being part of the cross-functional teams.

Building on the previous work undertaken, Kerry delivered a series of grant subsidised training workshops to Darron’s management and supervisory teams, teaching them the core principles of Lean manufacturing and change management. The teams are now capable of managing the process of setting and monitoring KPIs, empowering them to run their own departments and take responsibility for measuring their own targets. The long-term aim is to allow the senior management team to spend their time making strategic decisions, and leave the running of the business in the capable hands of its team.

Achievements: Sales turnover has been boosted by over 100% and is on course for a further 50% increase by the end of 2008. 6 Kaizen teams have been put in place to ensure the continual effective management of KPIs. The order backlog has been significantly reduced. 5S and visual management team standardisation has been developed. Manufacturing Engineering Manager Richard Rhodes is studying towards the Executive MSc in Manufacturing Leadership to steer future changes. Management and supervisory teams have been taught the fundamentals of Lean manufacturing and change management.

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