Cabinet maker’s success enhanced by digital uplift

Cabinet manufacturer Basically Trade is boosting productivity and safeguarding jobs thanks to the University of Central Lancashire’s DigitME2 project.

The business support programme – which enables the utilisation of advanced industrial digital technologies to help increase productivity and drive growth – has helped the Padiham-based firm to harness data more efficiently using analytics through the development of a bespoke piece of software, and work towards its long-term goal of becoming a more efficient business.

In addition, DigitME2 is expected to deliver financial benefits to Basically Trade as a result of efficiency savings, reducing down time and ensuring a high-level quality of production is maintained.

Established in 2005, Basically Trade has seven employees and makes high-grade cabinets for bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms which it supplies directly to the trade. With more than 20 years’ industry experience among the team, the company offers a wide range of product variants in addition to a colour matching service.

Bespoke software identifies production patterns

The aim of DigitME2 was to examine the level of automation and technology in the business’ manufacturing processes.

However, because Basically Trade did not collect the start and stop times of jobs, there was no indication of how much extra time was being built up by operators, or how long jobs took in the assembly phase. Moreover, each job was different, which meant the firm did not know the length of each process.

With these challenges in mind, the DigitME2 project engineers worked with the company to create a bespoke piece of software designed specifically to assist the management team in identifying exact times for each part of their manufacturing process. The system was also designed to indicate the current stage of a job, therefore providing the business with a much clearer view of timescales.

Consisting of a central on-site server and a number of scanner stations, one station is typically assigned to each stage of the process. The user is able to access a browser-based interface, which allows them to view data in the system, to add jobs, users and stoppage codes, and to configure various system parameters. In addition, the system can also produce timesheets for administrative purposes, and tables of data including job work logs can be downloaded for further processing in a spreadsheet if required.

Helping Basically Trade improve productivity

The business is now in the process of obtaining a Made Smarter grant for an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system which would utilise the date from the software put in place by DigitME2.

Basically Trade Director Stephen Ward said: “Working with DigitME2 has helped us to identify a clear productivity pattern on a daily basis, whether negative or positive. This highlights time consuming processes that need to be addressed and will help us to achieve our long-term goal of a more efficient and profitable business.

"The project helped us to look at what we do in a totally different way and question some of our existing methods. While we were already a technically driven company, the project opened our eyes to analytics and the ability to harness data more effectively. "

“As a result, we are now equipped with a bespoke piece of software which is tailored to the requirements of our business. This will help to keep clients returning and in the longer term, we are hoping for financial benefits as a result of efficiency savings, reducing down time and ensuring our high-level quality of production is maintained.”

DigitME2 Project Manager Geoff Hall said: “By developing a long-term relationship with Basically Trade we have been able to develop a true understanding of the team’s individual business challenges and provide valuable support and expertise. This has resulted in the creation of a software solution which addresses specific needs and will not only help the business achieve its objectives of increasing efficiency and productivity, but become better prepared for what the future holds.”

DigitME2 is a University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) project, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by Boost; Lancashire’s business growth hub.

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