A chance encounter in a car dealership has opened up a whole new line of business for British furniture manufacturer, Dura.
Supercar enthusiast Chris Simpson was planning a huge extension to Interactive Coding Equipment (ICE) when the Porsche dealership’s Dura-built modular steel furniture caught his eye.
Nottingham-based ICE supplies food and pharmaceutical manufacturers with date, barcode and labelling equipment and systems,
Simpson explained: “We had a chance to start from scratch and get everything absolutely right. We were looking for a new layout that would improve efficiency and make it easier for our staff to communicate between themselves while they’re working in the assembly and servicing area.
“I’d seen Dura’s workshops in other high-end car dealerships too, and was very impressed by them, but we remained open-minded and invited a couple of other workshop design companies to show what they could do for us.
“The others took what’s best described as a catalogue approach, saying we could put things wherever we liked, whereas Dura got inside our heads and helped us create a bespoke, purpose-built workspace that was perfect for our needs.
“That made a significant difference. If we’d chosen the others, the way everything looked and worked simply wouldn’t have been the same.”
He said the collaboration between his team and Dura resulted in a highly unusual double-cross-shaped workspace that’s revolutionising the way his employees work and relate to each other.
“It’s an island with wide forklift-accessible working bays, unobstructed centre sections, concealed waste management and storage for tools and larger equipment, plus built-in monitors so each technician can see at a glance how the job’s progressing.
“I didn’t want wires and pipes dropping down from the ceiling, so the compressed air lines, electrics, and all the other services are hidden inside. It’s a very clean design that makes it easy to add other services, so it’s as future-proof as we could wish for.”
The managing technical director noted that the unique new workspace will play a major part in helping ICE continue its 15% year-on-year growth, as well as showing its commitment to developing sales of its suppliers’ equipment.
He added: “We now assemble many more things than before. We built 1,000 systems last year, but now we can do it in a much more efficient way.
“It’s a flexible enough space to let two engineers work on one job simultaneously, and each of our eight technicians has their own workspace.
“There were a couple of engineers who were initially resistant to change, but now they can see the benefits and are very happy people.
“As employers, our priority has always been to provide our team with the very best facilities. It’s a very advanced system for a small company.
“People who have seen the new workspace are hugely impressed. Our US partner’s vice-president was in town and saw it and was absolutely thrilled. It makes a statement and shows our commitment to investing in growth.”
Dominic Wishlade, managing director of Dura, is equally happy that the modular cabinets and storage systems he designed way back in the days of drawing-boards are proving so sought-after by numerous other industries.
He said: “The unique flexibility of our system offers endless possibilities for workspace layout. This configuration was devised with workflow optimisation and efficiency at the very heart of the concept.
“Instead of ICE’s technicians losing time moving between workstations to consult with their colleagues, they can see each other clearly and sit opposite each other when they need to.
“Image is very important to ICE, and its facilities and showroom are immaculate. A sharp customer-facing image is becoming increasingly important for any business, whether manufacturing, servicing, researching or training, and people see our designs as the perfect synergy of style and function.
“ICE’s open-door policy means clients and suppliers are shown around all aspects of the facility, including the workshop, and we’re proud that our work is taking centre-stage.”
Holder of The Queen’s Award For Enterprise and recipient of a Red Dot Design Award, Dura is celebrating 20 years of designing and manufacturing all of its products in Britain with a factory in Plymouth and a showroom in Brackley, Northampton.