Shelve it

Posted on 2 Mar 2010 by The Manufacturer

With over 60 years experience in the design, manufacture and installation of storage and handling systems, UK-based LINPAC Storage Systems has clients ranging from SMEs through to the largest multi-national. Tim Brown talks to operations manager, Michael Rudniak, about maintaining advantage through improvement

Maintaining strong working relationships with some of the biggest commercial companies in the world is no mean task, especially when providing a product absolutely integral to their operation. Through the provision of high-quality products and excellent service, Linpac Storage System has successfully nurtured relationships with the likes of Amazon, Dunlop-Goodyear, Laddaw, P&O Ferries, Matalan, Marks & Spencer, Argos and TNT — not to mention a raft of smaller companies.

“We are extremely proud of the professional service we deliver to all our customers, regardless of their size,” says Rudniak, who maintains it is the copany’s UK base that truly assists Linpac’s ability to satisfy client needs. “When you’re working to tight time schedules, with downtime being critical, the last thing you need is delays due to products being manufactured abroad. At Linpac we produce everything here in the UK, and with the manufacturing and management all situated at our Milton Keynes headquarters it ensures the entire team works in unison to deliver jobs on time and in budget.”

A short chain of command, backed by experienced designers, structural engineers and a state of the art manufacturing facility, gives the company the flexibility to provide tailored storage solutions in very short time frames.

“Our UK manufacturing facility at Milton Keynes gives us a distinct advantage in the marketplace; from here we produce the broad range of racking and shelving products on offer,” says Rudniack.

“Quality, service and attention to detail are central to our business philosophy.”

Facility improvements
Linpac Storage Systems’ state of the art manufacturing infrastructure at Milton Keynes incorporates steel forming presses, specialist steel rolling mills, automatic welding machines and one of the largest epoxy polyester coating paint lines in Europe. Ensuring a high-level of technological advancement, the company has engaged in important recent infrastructure investments to help improve production efficiency.

Over the last five years Linpac has invested heavily in new plants, helping output increase ten fold.

Recent investments include:
A new bracing line – this has allowed the company to produce both horizontal and diagonal braces on the one line, while simultaneously increasing productivity by 50%.

An automatic welder – can weld standard beams with an average of 250 beams per hour, five times quicker than manual welding while producing a high quality automated finish.

A rolling mill – specialising in rolling, forming and boxing the two-part boxed section beam.

To assist the company with further advancements, Linpac has employed its own lean management and continual improvement programme — known within the company as LPOS.

Yearly strategies are set up for each department, with goals, objectives and measures reviewed monthly. The LPOS programme has played a major role in ensuring the organisation survived the recession by operating leanly and keeping cost to a minimum.

As part of the program, all operators are responsible for quality, and regularly raise issues via meetings, which are acted upon by using the different tools & techniques. Continuous improvement techniques including 5S, TBM, TPM, SPC have been implemented over the last 18 months.

Hand in hand with the environment The results of these implementations can be easily recognised within the factory, none more obvious than in the environmental improvements that the company has set in place. While efficiency and productivity have been significant driving factors for improvement implementation, environmental protection has also played an important role. According to Rudniak, Linpac Storage Systems is committed to protecting and enhancing the environment as a fundamental principle of the company’s business. “We believe that the company should make every appropriate effort to avoid compromising future generations’ ability to sustain their needs,” he says.

The company is implementing activities throughout its operations to reduce the use of materials and energy, increase recycling and minimise emissions and wastes to air, water and soil. Management also takes the environment into account when updating operation practices, ensuring the company employs any available technological advancements which may assist in reducing its environmental impact. Linpac also takes steps to ensure it is aware of any new relevant understandings in terms of environmental science.

“LPOS has also affected our energy and waste efficiencies, with questions raised and actions taken, which have resulted in current improvements,” says Rudniak. “Of all the improvements carried last year resulting in savings, benefits and an improved working environment, the one considered the main success was the SMED exercise carried out on our main Rolling Mill, which reduced the change over times from 4 to 1.5 hours and resulted in improved Lead-times, planning & productivity.”

Other improvements have included:
• The reduction of the four stage pre-treatment process to a three stage process saving chemical, gas and electricity.
• Decreased powder usage without affecting quality levels.
• Reduced oven temperatures.

Planned future investment
The success achieved by Linpac Storage Systems’ existing improvement programmes has encouraged plans for further changes. These include: the implementation of quick colour change powder paint booths for existing lines, which it is estimated will reduce change over times from 2 hours to 10mins; and an improvement in powder transfer efficiency, which would reduce powder costs by an estimated 40%. The company also plans to increase its export market, and is this year aiming to sell up to 25% of its products in to overseas markets.

Linpac Storage Systems products could be considered the vertebrae supporting the operational nervous system at many noteworthy companies. Its popularity is largely due to the high quality of its offerings, which is ensured through the consistent implementation of production improvement techniques. It’s achievements through said improvements also greatly assist the company to remain competitive both in the UK and internationally. Moving forward, continued production investments will undoubtedly further improve the company’s competitive advantage and ensure its ongoing successes.