Looking Lean – Strand Makes Warehouse Improvements

Strand Hardware has developed leaner assembly, dispatch and warehousing processes – saving hundreds of staff hours each year – in a joint project with a crack team from Warwick University.

The project with WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) has optimised warehouse layout and movement for the efficient flow of picking, assembly and packing operations across key ranges.

It involved measuring processes via time study and motion analysis through site visits, video capture and process flow assessment. Findings outlined cycle times and mapped the movement of people.

The resulting report outlined a series of recommendations to improve process capacity, including quick wins and minor modifications to warehouse and workstations layout to introduce time savings.

This has led to the introduction of mobile Kanban shelving within the assembly area to allow components to be picked and assembled more efficiently. The double-sided racks allow bins to be restocked by a dedicated person who conveys stock between Strand’s warehouse and its head office on another part of the site.

Steve Marshall, Managing Director of Strand Hardware, said that the project had been “thorough and exacting”.

“Strand Hardware has grown over 30 years. Like most companies, while scaling up, we have focused on customer requirements and day-to-day business operations. We felt that the time had come to review what we were doing and whether we could be doing it more efficiently, which led to the opportunity to work with WMG.

“Having experts come into the business with fresh pairs of eyes, ask the right questions and with the knowledge to assess and analyse our operations has been invaluable. It was important for us not to disrupt warehouse activity, so recommendations had to incorporate improvements that would be easy to apply. In the long term, this will make our business leaner and more efficient – the ideal foundation for future growth,” he said.

The project was undertaken with funding from the Digital Innovation for Manufacturing programme.

Strand Warehouse and Production Manager Andy Michel said that it had been fascinating to work with the University Team: “The results will make the job easier for many of the team and help Strand Hardware in its continuous improvement.”

Chris Wang, of WMG SME Group added: “WMG and Strand Hardware have worked collaboratively to analyse their current assembly area in readiness for optimising their production facility. Across the three recommendations put forward, a maximum 50% reduction in cycle times per unit has been predicted which allows for a 5.105% capacity increase.”

For more information on Strand Hardware’s range of products contact: info@strandhardware.co.uk or call: 01922 639111