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05/06/2018 / Graham Lowe

No Margin for Error in the Life Safety Sector

JayOliverBlog

When it comes to manufacturing life safety solutions, there is no margin for error. In our latest blog, Jay Oliver, Production Manager at Hochiki Europe, discusses how careful planning and innovative production processes ensure that the highest quality products are manufactured on time, every time.

At Hochiki Europe, our Production department is, of course, central to meeting our customers’ requirements – both in terms of creating the life safety solutions we offer as well as the manner in which they receive them. In my role, I oversee and support the operations of both the Production and Production Engineering teams which help make this possible.

The two divisions have a joint responsibility for the manufacture and assembly of our life safety systems. On the Production Engineering side, this means keeping all machinery in full working order so processes can be completed efficiently. For those in production, it is about having the right amount of resource available at all times so components can be readily assembled, packaged and shipped as required.

Our production schedule is heavily dictated by sales to ensure efficiency, with products being manufactured in line with customer demand. That said, we also keep reserve stocks of some products so customers can continue to get the life safety products they need, when they need them, in line with Hochiki Europe’s next day delivery policy. Having production forecasts in place to maintain this reserve stock of products is key. We work closely with our suppliers to make sure we have all the required components for our solutions at all times, which keeps processes running smoothly.

When it comes to bringing new products and systems into our production schedule, we operate a lean manufacturing process. Departments from across the business, including design and technical, come together to understand how we can manufacture high-quality products in a timely and cost-effective way. Once a plan is in place, a product will go into pre-production and a set number of units will be built. This process will then be reviewed to check for ways to increase productivity before mass production. By understanding the different elements of the production process, we are able to constantly review and adapt our practices, so we can continually improve as a manufacturer.

This level of review also feeds into our day to day working within our Production division, and real-time feedback is shared via screens on the factory floor. In the past, this kind of process was done with paper systems which did not always provide the most recent data, and consequently, production was not adequately adjusted to meet targets.

Another part of our production that sets us apart from other life safety manufacturers is our solid smoke testing procedure. Incorporated into our manufacturing equipment is a tool that calibrates our smoke detectors and carries out a smoke test in as few as 15 seconds.

Our production capabilities have grown exponentially in recent years, and our manufacturing output now extends beyond traditional fire detection equipment to accessories, modules and emergency lighting. We’ve also been making the most of our existing efficiencies when developing new products. Earlier this year, we shipped one of our production lines from our Japanese factory to our Gillingham site, solely to manufacture our ACC range. It is processes like this that make Hochiki Europe and our ways of working so unique.

Looking ahead to the next 100 years, we are looking to further expand our production and increase our capacity for the coming year. At the same time, we are also adapting our current processes in line with the latest technological advances. Components are getting smaller, some of which are just the size of a pin head so we’re having to amend our assembly lines to suit this miniaturisation. With this approach, and our new machinery, we are hoping to grow our output by 130%.

This kind of investment will go a long way in improving our productivity, which is already well above target. For example, Hochiki Europe achieved its Q2 targets on both performance and outputs at the end of Q1, and compared to last year, the company is 126% up on its production capabilities. These results are testament to our extensive production planning.

Technology is getting smarter and at Hochiki Europe, we are working to find ways to stay ahead of the curve. By continuing with our rigorous production review process, we can continue to deliver the most robust and dependable life safety solutions promptly, efficiently and effectively.

Jay Oliver is Production Manager at Hochiki Europe. Having joined the business in 1993, Jay has extensive experience in planning and managing production processes. He has been in the role of Production Manager for 12 years and is responsible for running the production department ensuring it supports Hochiki Europe’s wider business objectives.

For more information about Hochiki Europe, and our products, visit www.hochikieurope.com

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