Produmax wins national award for engineering transformation

Yorkshire aerospace engineering specialist, Produmax has won a new award which recognises how the family-run firm has secured almost £20m in contracts, won three new customers and grown its workforce by 40%.

The Produmax team celebrate their skills awards with Mandy Ridyard and Jeremy Ridyard (front) with Ikigai trophy - image courtesy of Sharing in Growth.
The Produmax team celebrate their skills awards with Mandy Ridyard and Jeremy Ridyard (front) with Ikigai trophy – image courtesy of Sharing in Growth.

The Sharing in Growth ‘Ikigai’ trophy was handed over in front of the 70-strong Produmax workforce, as well as guests from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Safran Nacelles, BAE Systems and Senior Aerospace, EEF, Bradford City Council, and Keighley College.

The trophy was presented to managing director, Jeremy Ridyard, by Dr Bryan Jackson CBE, chairman of Sharing in Growth (SiG) – the intensive government-backed programme designed by industry to raise the competitiveness of the UK aerospace supply chain.

Ikigai is a Japanese word that encapsulates passion and purpose.

Produmax, which specialises in the manufacture of flight control components, was selected for the SiG transformation programme in 2014. Since then, with the support of SiG, Produmax has created a vision to be ‘engineering superheroes’ and developed its business significantly.

Its total business transformation has included opening new headquarters, changing its culture, creating a farsighted strategy, and delivering operational performance in line with world-class practices. It also led to the consolidation of two older factories, including a Victorian tannery, into one new larger purpose-built plant which was fully-configured by the employees.

To support an ambition to hit £10m turnover by 2020, Produmax has now invested in a second factory on the same site to open later in 2018, creating further capacity and more jobs.

Nigel Strutt (L) of Lockheed Martin on the Produmax shopfloor tour - image courtesy of Sharing in Growth.
Nigel Strutt (L) of Lockheed Martin on the Produmax shopfloor tour – image courtesy of Sharing in Growth.

The company is a supplier to world-leading aerospace companies such as Boeing, Bombardier, Moog and Meggitt, exporting 80% of production overseas to countries including the US, Canada, Japan, Morocco, the Philippines, and Italy.

Produmax’s employees led a shop-floor tour that demonstrated the many advances implemented with the support of SiG. These included business improvement techniques, lean manufacturing cells, single flow processes, multi-manning, lights out automation, a gated new product introduction system, new communications and staff engagement processes, manpower planning and problem solving.

The change in culture, shopfloor layout, and processes to support continuous improvement has seen operational KPIs improve significantly. to world-class levels. Lead times, for example, have fallen from 32 days to 23 hours, and machine set up time has been reduced by 75%.

Future investmemt

Produmax reportedly has plans to continue investing in people and technology, and is currently exploring hard metal cutting, complex assembly and additive layer manufacture and, through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Leeds University, solving technological challenges, like tool life management and operating temperatures in order to further increase capacity through automation, taking advantage of lights out weekend running.

Finance director Mandy Ridyard – who was recently named in The Manufacturer Top 100 2017 report – explained: “Our vision is to be engineering superheroes and our strategy is to grow our factory, grow our people and grow our business.

 Luke Copsey receives his award certificate from Sharing in Growth CEO Andy Page - image courtesy of Sharing in Growth.
Luke Copsey receives his award certificate from Sharing in Growth CEO Andy Page – image courtesy of Sharing in Growth.

“We managed to consolidate two factories into one new one, introduce new levels of automation and improve our culture and brand exposure all at the same time.

“We know employee engagement is key to cracking the productivity puzzle and we have increased our employee engagement by 25% to world-class levels and increased our productivity by 32%.”

The event also celebrated Produmax’s investment in staff development with the award of national qualifications to 14 Produmax staff as part of the Sharing in Growth programme. They were presented with a range of qualifications including Level 3 NVQ extended diplomas in mechanical manufacturing engineering, Level 2 and 3 certificates in business improvement techniques, HNDs and HNCs in mechanical engineering.

The SiG programme is supporting 63 companies across the UK and is endorsed by Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Bombardier, GE, GKN, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, MBDA, Rolls-Royce, Safran and Thales. It is supported by the Regional Growth Fund and more than £150m in private investment.

With SiG support, the first 43 companies on the programme have secured more than £2bn in contracts to date – almost 20% of which is for direct export. Consequently, having secured more than 3,000 jobs, SiG is well on target to hit its ultimate objective of safeguarding 10,000 UK jobs by 2022.