Precision engineering specialist, JJ Churchill has set itself an ambitious target of doubling its turnover by 2022, thanks in large part to support from the Sharing in Growth (SiG) programme.
According to JJ Churchill, engaging in Sharing in Growth (SiG) has helped set a vision and strategy for the future. It also enabled the firm to weather the turbulence in the oil & gas sector and, at the same time, reshape the business with a greater focus on aerospace.
Set up in 2013, Sharing in Growth is an intensive four-year programme designed to transform the productivity and competitiveness of the UK aerospace supply chain. More specifically, it aims to deliver a £110m-worth of intensive supplier development to 30-40 UK suppliers.
Managing director of JJ Churchill, Andrew Churchill explained: “Working with SiG, we were able to identify the structural and process weaknesses in the business and to put a plan in place to address these. And this wasn’t just at a strategic level. The SiG team supported our teams to implement structured problem solving.”
One of these was a metrology issue, where recordings from JJ Churchill’s CMMs did not match the results from the customer’s CMM. This posed a real problem as parts inspected by JJ Churchill with accompanying metrology documentation differed from that of the customer, leading to parts being rejected.
As part of the SiG programme, measurement experts the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) worked alongside SiG and JJ Churchill’s engineers to develop capability.
According to JJ Churchill’s quality manager, Paul Oldfield: “The problem was fundamentally with the two different sets of algorithms used by the two different CMM brands: measuring an aerofoil surface is not straightforward.
“When we showed this to the customer, we were able to explain the reason for the variations and to re-establish our quality credentials. We learnt a valuable lesson in the use of metrology. We also, with SiG’s support, spread quality skills around the company, for example with Gauge R&R and FMEA [Failure Mode & Effects Analysis] training.”
Upskilling the workforce
As part of the SiG programme, continuous improvement engineer, Pete Manton, led an NVQ initiative to enhance skills, which gave the two teams of eight complete autonomy in solving three production problems.
At the same time, it generated a potential benefit to the company of almost £500,000 a year and had a positive impact on staff motivation and productivity.
Manton explained: “There were three main parts to the NVQ project – reducing waste in an aerofoil development programme; reducing damage to a production part; and lost staff time across the organisation.
“We addressed each of these in a structured way, using several operational techniques such as fishbone diagrams, value stream mapping and statistical data analysis to solve the problems.
“This resulted in a wide range of benefits: reduced time spent looking for tools; material for jobs easily identified; improved layout; time saved cleaning down machines; improved visual appearance of work areas; 5S checklists in place; SOPs in place. And each member of the team achieved an NVQ qualification.”
Andrew Churchill added: “We rolled the SiG blueprint throughout the company. This enabled us to weather the downturn in oil and gas. It supported us to in bringing in fresh blood to complement the existing skills within the company. And we were able to run two cohorts of employees through an NVQ initiative.
Alongside tracking performance through layered KPIs, and doubling its aerospace business while maintaining core competencies in other industrial markets, JJ Churchill is also now engaging with the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult as it looks to take the next significant step towards advanced automation.
Churchill concluded: “SiG is an excellent example of the government and the engineering industry working together to make our industry more effective, more efficient and future-proofed. This is increasing opportunity, sales and jobs. And with the resurgence of Industrial Strategy as a political imperative, we know that we have the support we need.”