Forgemasters ‘leans’ toward major savings

Sheffield Forgemasters is saving £300,000 a year after adopting ‘lean’ manufacturing policies and reckons that figure could double within a year.

Savings have been made by examining the consumption of raw materials, water and energy, how repairs and maintenance are carried out, relocating equipment and machinery and bringing back in outsourced products and services.

Forgemasters called in business improvement specialist Nicholson Consultancy to give staff the knowhow and skills to make manufacturing even more efficient and cost-effective. As a result, employees have come up with more than 1,500 ideas for improvements, ranging from simple changes to plant layout through to initiatives requiring six-figure investments.

Forgemasters lean champion Mick Dickson, operations director for the company’s department that makes work rolls for rolling mills, said: “We wanted to give our employees the knowledge and confidence to devise methods, not only to make manufacturing processes more efficient and economical, but also to add value to our products and services.

“While not all improvements can be measured in terms of pound notes, all projects are meticulously assessed and monitored. The measurable benefits currently are running at about £300,000 a year, with a target to double this within 12 months. This is in addition to initial one-off savings of more than £100,000.

Nicholson Consultancy managing director Andrew Nicholson said: “To succeed in today’s fast-moving business environment it is vital that manufacturers embrace characteristics including a reasoned and comprehensive strategy, efficient and effective processes and the right people in the right places.

“Our experts empower employees at companies, such as Sheffield Forgemasters, to review practices and procedures to improve how they operate at all levels.”

Projects have included:

An initiative led by two apprentices has cut nitrogen use by 20 percent and made the process more efficient.

Rigorous recycling of scrap and excess steel – including dust – which has led to a reduction in raw materials.

Re-positioning of plant and equipment to save unnecessary transport and movement. Bringing in house previously outsourced operations like tool grinding.

Cutting down the amount of fresh mains water used by recycling water from the company’s reservoir.