Midlands businesses tap into new standards

31st March 2008
Posted By : ES Admin
Midlands businesses tap into new standards
With international competition continuing to bear down on UK manufacturing industry, Birmingham City University’s Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) is helping companies strengthen their position on every front.
TIC’s Business Solutions Team has now gained particular recognition through its help for SMEs in raising operating standards to the highest level, in order to win customers’ confidence. TIC Head of Business Operations, Kevin Hogan, says: “TIC’s Business Solutions Practice has introduced world-class technologies, lean techniques and relevant skills, to over three thousand companies. Now, TIC has a growing role in helping its client businesses gain top quality and operating standards recognition. These make company skills recognisable when competing for business in global markets and are an integral part of TIC’s Business Solutions programmes.”

Two high-quality, yet very different, Birmingham plumbing products manufacturers recently benefited from TIC’s standards expertise. Growing newcomer ECO-Logic UK, offers ‘a revolutionary design concept for total electronic water management.’ Its electronically controlled water-delivery systems for showers, toilets and other bathing installations focus on markets from prisons and custodial environments, through hospitals and care institutions, to commercial clubs and gymnasia. Its robust, low-maintenance, water-delivery installations are resistant to vandalism and possibilities of self-harm, in security situations, and its easy-to-clean products help lower contamination risks in healthcare environments. Its commercial ranges are fashionably styled for sports centres, hotels and stadiums.

In seeking quality standards recognition, West Midlands Manufacturing Advisory Service (WMAS) guided ECO-Logic, through West Midlands’ Technology Network (WMTN), to TIC. Its help resulted in ISO 9001 accreditation. ECO-Logic’s Business Manager, David Lloyd, says: “This recognition has stimulated customer demand. ECO-logic is now moving forward with TIC towards ISO14001, for environmental standards. TIC is also helping us advance our computer-design capabilities and overall enterprise resource planning, both essential to future growth.”

In contrast, established nearly 200 years ago, Samuel Heath and Sons plc recently achieved the latest accolade in production standards. Originally a brass bedstead ornament and candlestick manufacturer, over its history Samuel Heath has manufactured diverse, mainly brass-based products. Today, it is known for high-quality bathroom taps, showers and complementary accessories. The company also makes distinctive architectural hardware and concealed door closers.

Long-term holders of ISO 9001 European quality certification, Samuel Heath’s quality-conscious management sought the advanced new OSHAS 18001 standard. This takes particular account of vital aspects of operational health and safety. It underpins compliance with the many regulations now placed on manufacturers. Through detailed employee-care considerations, OSHAS 18001 offers valuable benefits such as high employee morale and lower insurance premiums. Significantly customers have become increasingly interested in the degree to which suppliers embrace such modern working criteria.

Relatively new OSHAS 18001 has limited implementation experts so that Samuel Heath was glad to be guided by WMAS to TIC’s Business Solutions team. Their affordable help enabled the new standard to be achieved and has given confidence to both workforce and staff together with having a beneficial effect on production efficiency and quality. Quality engineer, Andrew Turley, says: “TIC’s team offer help from practical engineering, through to advanced CAD techniques. Since they also cover every aspect of quality, environmental, and health and safety standards, we had complete confidence in their expert guidance.”

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