Pryor apprentice makes mark with £50k-a-year in production savings

Assembly efficiencies made by a ‘remarkable’ design engineer during his apprenticeship are now saving his employer £50,000-a-year and slashing product build time by more than 60%.

Niall Dawson works at Sheffield-based Pryor Marking Technology, a world-leader for design and manufacture of intelligent marking, identification and code reading solutions.

The 21-year-old completed a Technical Support Apprenticeship with the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre this year and says one of his finest hours during that time was being lead designer in Pryor’s first wave implementation of dedicated assembly stations for standard products.

Employed as Pryor’s first Technical Apprentice, the project began with Niall looking at the assembly time of a standard product that was notoriously difficult to assemble with ‘Right First Time’ yield falling as low as 70%.


Niall Dawson - Pryor Marking Technology


He explains: “When looking at the bill of materials, I quickly noticed some high cost parts that seemed very over-engineered for their function. Many colleagues within the fitting department had commented on the product taking multiple attempts to get right and this adds a lot of time on to the build.”

“As well as designing the stations to reduce assembly time, we also looked at the ergonomics of a cell and provided assembly operatives with all the tools and parts required for a job so they didn’t have to spend time locating or fetching parts from the warehouse, reducing overall time and improving efficiency.”

Having implemented a series of changes over two- years, the result show a saving of £50,000 a year and a more than a 60% reduction in the time it takes to build each product – down from 3.5 hours to 60 minutes. ‘Right First Time’ yield is also now back where it should be at 100%.

Niall continues: “The skill level now needed to build the machine has also been reduced, opening up opportunities for lower-skilled labour from other areas in the factory to assemble these products.

“The benefit to the company through this project has been huge and it now means other standard products can be investigated using the same methodology to reduce cost, assembly time and improve quality.”

Niall is fully integrated into the design team at Pryor, working on sales orders and standard product development alongside five other fully qualified designers. He works independently on projects, tapping into the knowledge and experience of the experts around him to develop his core design skills.

Niall is currently developing cost estimates and quotations for bespoke customer projects where values can exceed £100k.

He is also part of the team developing Pryor’s approach to Industry 4.0 – the adoption of digital industrial technologies to create smarter, connected factories.


Heading image – workshop floor of the AMRC Training Centre, in Catcliffe, Rotherham – image courtesy of AMRC