Advice helps Caledonian build strategy for growth

ohn Laing, managing director of Caledonian Plastics Ltd pictured in front of the firm's new �150,000 state-of-the-art injection moulding machine
ohn Laing, managing director of Caledonian Plastics Ltd pictured in front of the firm's new �150,000 state-of-the-art injection moulding machine

AN injection of advice from the Manufacturing Advisory Service Yorkshire & Humber (MAS Y&H) has helped Sheffield-based Caledonian Plastics drive up turnover by introducing a range of improvements.

Caledonian Plastics has 34 employees and a current turnover of £1.7m. The company manufactures a range of plastic injection and blow moulding products, including coolant tanks and air ducting for Triumph Motorcycles and a part for securing parked bicycles, used in a cycle hire scheme championed by London mayor Boris Johnson.

Managing director John Laing said: “My late father set the business up in 1966. One of the first contracts he won was with a local company manufacturing medical products. Over 40 years later, they are now our biggest customer, and we produce between 30 to 40 million units every year for them.”

“Our decision to call in MAS was based on the fact that its advisors all have a background of working in industry and we quickly realised they were also very hands on,” explained John.

MAS consultants Simon Lamb and Dean Morgan carried out an efficiency improvement project which included a review of Caledonian’s manufacturing processes and the collection and storage of data.

A significant 5S (efficiency, work organisation, quality, safety and housekeeping) initiative was also implemented to improve housekeeping and eliminate waste. Aisles were cleared and tooling and raw material stored in a more organised way. Training in ‘Lean’ manufacturing techniques was also provided to shop floor staff and one to one coaching of senior manufacturing staff.

A Brieg (Business Resource Efficiency Improvement Grant) grant of £1000 was approved against a £7,000 Carbon Trust project, which supported the retrofit of a variable speed drive unit to the air compressor system, generating running cost savings of over £3000 pa and an energy saving of 26 tonnes CO2.

Other benefits arising from the MAS project include an increase in GVA of £41,000, 10 jobs safeguarded and £85,000 of additional sales. Mr Laing said: “MAS acted as a catalyst and gave us a ‘wake up’ call to put the wheels in motion for long term improvements, to help safeguard our future. Simon and Dean took the time to chat to members of staff on an individual basis and even the most cynical ones have really ‘bought’ into the changes.”

He added: “We are in a very competitive marketplace, especially from foreign competition. Offering quality products and being flexible on the size of orders (however small) has helped us to remain successful. We have recently invested £150,000 in a new state-of-the-art injection moulding machine and are also planning to purchase a new blow moulding machine.”

MAS Y&H is a BIS initiative providing hands-on advice and support to manufacturing businesses to improve productivity and efficiency. MAS Y&H is jointly supported by Yorkshire Forward and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is managed by YFM Business Development, part of the GLE Group – a not for profit enterprise development company.