Siddall and Hilton Products Ring Fences Success with Seiki
Siddall and Hilton Products Ltd is a leading European manufacturer of steel wire fence and welded mesh products. The privately owned company has a pedigree stretching over a century and this part of the group now boasts a turnover of £20m. Its 75 skilled personnel use the latest technology combined with lean manufacturing methodologies to manufacture products found in such diverse places as health and safety guarding, pet cages, school perimeter fencing and protecting armed forces in live conflict zones. When you produce 1,700 tonnes of product every month, even small efficiency gains can lead to substantial cost and time savings, which is why Siddall and Hilton Products invested in the latest Machine Monitoring and Shop Floor Data Collection (SFDC) technology from Seiki Systems.
Siddall and Hilton Products has long since recognised the value of optimising efficiency which is why it operates a series of kanbans with varying replenishment levels across its 150 most popular live stock items that automatically trigger re-order alerts. The company has also undertaken a considerable investment in employing Lean manufacturing philosophies as well as purchasing some of the most advanced machinery of its kind anywhere in the world. Its latest acquisition is one of only 2 such machines in existence and cost in excess of £3 million. Recent investments in production scheduling software and specialist on-site technical personnel have brought efficiency gains but as Goy explains, “visibility of what was happening, and more importantly, why something was not happening, remained a missing piece of the equation.”
Recognising that accurate, real-time data was essential to the company’s ongoing efficiency plans, Goy was tasked with sourcing an appropriate solution. In order to demonstrate the benefits of collecting machine activity data a Seiki account manager came on-site complete with a demo-box and ran a simulation based on live data. “This was an essential step in demonstrating the importance of improving the uptime of our resources through improved visibility of machine activity and individual job performance” explains Goy. “I was able to show everyone by fast forwarding through 20 hours of video footage just how many stoppages we were having and how little we knew about each one. This was contrasted with the way the Seiki system monitored every stoppage, the reason for every stoppage, and the ability to then analyse the reasons. “It was clear that Seiki theoretically could do what we needed – all we needed to do was build a capital case to get the go-ahead.” Goy already knew that the company had lost 130 productive shifts on just one machine in the previous year due to changeovers with each shift costing approximately £800. Incremental profit lost due to changeovers approximates £18k. A projected 20% efficiency saving from the Seiki System would therefore be £3.6k p.a. When the same analysis was applied to reductions in scrap and rework it became clear that the company was looking at a Return on Investment (ROI) in under 2 years.
Meaningful visual information
The final Seiki solution comprises its seamlessly integrated Machine Monitoring and SFDC system with electronic work queues, which works in partnership with the company’s existing planning and scheduling package to deliver and capture critical, meaningful job/operation and machine status data for subsequent performance analysis. Now whenever a machine is stopped, whether by an operator or automatically at a machine level, the data is instantly. Goy reflects on the impact this made. “With each passing day we had a growing insight into machine activity and inactivity which we could analyse by shift, operator, and stoppage code. It wasn’t long before we had enough visual information to drill down into to know where the biggest areas of efficiency gain could be most quickly achieved.” recorded.
Goy is convinced that the company is still only scratching the surface of the system’s potential yet it has already delivered an impressive range of benefits. “The fact that we measure and know we measure everything has brought company wide accountability and people are taking responsibility for what they do and don’t do. ”He continues, “The more data we collect, the more we can begin to identify trends which lets us move beyond understanding what’s happening and when and to start to uncover underlying reasons which allows us to take preventative measures.” Another benefit comes from the elimination of the paper trail where information is now 100% visible and usable.
When it comes to cost savings, it’s hard to make before/after comparisons because of the unavailability of prior accurate data but Goy estimates a minimum of £1500 per month.
Looking ahead, perhaps the most significant potential area of savings will come from the business intelligence that the Seiki system delivers in terms of assisting with evaluating significant capital investment. Goy notes that data from the Seiki system is at the heart of a current investment project of several hundreds of thousands of pounds but one which promises potential savings measurable in millions of pounds. Goy reflects on the reasons for the company’s success thus far with the Seiki system. “The most important part of the implementation is involving all interested parties at an early stage and to remove fear of giving accurate information. The system must be very simple to use or it won’t be used. Shop floor people consider their job to be producing not inputting information; if it is difficult to do it won’t be done properly. What gets measured improves, and simply making the data visible and accessible encourages people to strive harder.”