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    Aerospace

    The Challenges of a Subcontractor

    • By Editor
    • January 22, 2020
    • 8 minute read

    In the Summer, we spoke with Paul Brunton, Managing Director at Arnold Wragg Ltd to discuss the challenges of a modern-day subcontractor. As the figurehead of the AS:9100 approved specialist manufacturer of first level safety critical fastener’s, Paul discussed challenges such as material technology and advancements like additive manufacturing; working to revision B, C & D of historical drawings older than most engineers, order quantities, scheduling and price per unit considerations – even the calculations needed to justify a new machine purchase.

     In this second instalment, Paul looks at ‘business strategies’, how to adopt a suitable strategy and also how to overcome the challenges that are very often unique to the typical UK subcontract manufacturing business. 

    “At Arnold Wragg, we chose to adopt a Kaplan and Norton Strategy mapping tool and a balance score card. We chose this map, as it is a popular choice with plenty of information, examples and designs available. There are also helpful guides all over the internet including tutorials on YouTube. This means that members of my team could become familiar with the concept, which is more informative and explanatory than having staff limited to just my interpretation.”

    “It is worth noting that having your team members carry out a little homework or research can aid tremendously at the early buy-in stage. This is vital to the success of any type of long-term development cycle. I also found it helped to promote ideas and interpretations. Additionally, individuals within the company are motivated, informed and they then come to the table keen; with open channels of communication flowing from the start. This creates a superb energy to get out the marker pens and start writing big on the wall.”

    Step one: pick a strategy and Step two: add the energy… 

    “We took the 4-tiered mapping tool which illustrates the generic perspectives of a company: learning and development at the bottom to underpin the whole thing. Above this was our ‘internal structures’ followed by the ‘customer’. Finally, the top tier is the ‘financial’ aspects. As a team, we then looked at each of the elements within these perspectives and relate them to our company. For example, ‘Price’ could be margin or hourly rate and ‘Service’ could be on-time delivery or quoting response time. For the ‘Internal’ perspective, we could take ‘Productivity’ and work out value-adding percentages or VA performance – i.e. the productivity of the revenues, which as we know is the life blood of an SME subcontractor.”

    “Once we had debated and decided what we believe is significant or relevant to us, we would want to identify it as something to review. So, we gave identification codes to aspects of our strategy, for example IP (internal perspective). So, another example would be ‘01_A’ and this could equal ‘value-adding time’ (VA). Once we have done this, we gave this element a unit of measure and in this case, it would be a percentage. We then chose the frequency in which to record this data, the criteria being it had to be manageable and yet still hold significance. Finally, we chose a starting point and process owner, which is immensely important throughout this project. Process ownership is key, it’s like the sustain in a 5S project – it is imperative to get it correct at the beginning of the roadmap. I was more than aware this project was a ‘concept’ at this early stage and only time would make it habitual, which in turn would make it part of our new culture. We are all creatures of habit in some way or form and even these wonderful improvement cycles, which can develop to what seems to be a complex evolving change promoting mechanism, is at its core a fundamentally basic process machine.”

    Step three: Add the ownership…   

    “The next job on the list is to start collecting the data. There are a couple of elements to this. Firstly, we developed the means of collecting the data, such as developing queries on our MRP systems, time sheets or other specifically developed documentation. Secondly, we placed information up on our notice boards to outline the tasks the company had chosen to undertake, highlighting points of interest, underpinning knowledge on the subject matter, why the company had chosen to go down this route and the potential benefits to the business.”

    “As previously stated, staff buy-in is imperative to the success of the development cycle which includes all members of the organisational chart. Sure, a simple instruction can be given and can be expected to be carried out if the request is reasonable. However, feedback is fantastic and should be welcomed at each and every level. Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative in content, it is all part of the education journey.”

    Step four: Ensure the ownership spreads…

    “Record the data and pick an amount of time that would yield a reasonable amount of data points that could possibly start to show early signs of trends. For example, after three months it would be simple and feasible to review this data with your management team. You may be pleasantly surprised or horrifically shocked. We experienced a little of both. However, what you should have at this point is a touch of reality and it’s now a case of onwards and upwards!”

    “We then decided where it is, we believed the company needed to be, in order to stay healthy for the future. This created both ends of our chart, where we are on the left and where we wanted to be on the right. In between was to be a massive void of unknown. When you are at this point, it’s time to set some goals by adding some milestone objectives and review points. In addition, we added upper and lower control limits, building in our own tolerance banding with any item landing outside of these tracks incurring  a ‘route cause analysis’ and with that, the start of our strategy mapping tool and continuous improvem

    ent cycle was born.”

    “When it comes to which element of the business requires the most attention, we can then ration out our resources accordingly. If the results state that you need implement action; as previously stated in ‘part one’, you can then go and buy that new machine.”

    “By adding this data into a

    balance score card each quarter, we can ensure shareholders, management, process owners and employees alike, are all working to one coherent message that is being read and universally understood.”

    “How do we overcome the previously stated items? In a nutshell, we make informed decisions as a team, participation promotes belonging and ownership and with this, you can solve issues and improve your position promoting continuous improvement activities and ideas. You can adapt to issues that are significant to the health and development of the organisation. With a relatively small management team or process owners, a simple strategy, an excel spread sheet and strong communication, you can quickly understand your business and you can thrive in these choppy waters. It is only when we understand and know ourselves, that we can place ourselves into the business canvas with the confidence that we are as fit as can be; ready, willing and able to serve our supply chains and industry to the best of our abilities.”

    “So, by following this strategy, what does this mean for the future of Arnold Wragg? Coming from a position of being a company that was purchased as a going concern some 6 years ago to a point where we are most defiantly holding our own, Arnold Wragg is investing. We’re investing in people, their education and developing engineers for the future. This is giving us the opportunity to work with local colleges and advanced training platforms close to home. In addition, we have entered the world of social media on LinkedIn and Twitter and are privileged to have met many people who share the same interest goals and ambitions – with some truly great success stories. We are becoming a stockist later-on this year, we will be promising a next day delivery service on a large range of aerospace part codes and our specialised A series and AGS series locking nuts. If all goes well, perhaps some new machinery may be on the cards too. Arnold Wragg are adopting the above strategies to create a ‘Wragg’s to Riches story’. We may not be a beacon of glittering success just yet – but we’re certainly a success story with a few chapters to go in our strategic aims for future success.”

     

     

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    The Challenges of a Subcontractor

    In the Summer, we spoke with Paul Brunton, Managing Director at Arnold Wragg Ltd to discuss the challenges of a modern-day subcontractor. As the figurehead of the AS:9100 approved specialist manufacturer of first level safety critical fastener’s, Paul discussed challenges such as material technology and advancements like additive manufacturing; working to revision B, C & D of historical drawings older than most engineers, order quantities, scheduling and price per unit considerations – even the calculations needed to justify a new machine purchase.

     In this second instalment, Paul looks at ‘business strategies’, how to adopt a suitable strategy and also how to overcome the challenges that are very often unique to the typical UK subcontract manufacturing business. 

    “At Arnold Wragg, we chose to adopt a Kaplan and Norton Strategy mapping tool and a balance score card. We chose this map, as it is a popular choice with plenty of information, examples and designs available. There are also helpful guides all over the internet including tutorials on YouTube. This means that members of my team could become familiar with the concept, which is more informative and explanatory than having staff limited to just my interpretation.”

    “It is worth noting that having your team members carry out a little homework or research can aid tremendously at the early buy-in stage. This is vital to the success of any type of long-term development cycle. I also found it helped to promote ideas and interpretations. Additionally, individuals within the company are motivated, informed and they then come to the table keen; with open channels of communication flowing from the start. This creates a superb energy to get out the marker pens and start writing big on the wall.”

    Step one: pick a strategy and Step two: add the energy… 

    “We took the 4-tiered mapping tool which illustrates the generic perspectives of a company: learning and development at the bottom to underpin the whole thing. Above this was our ‘internal structures’ followed by the ‘customer’. Finally, the top tier is the ‘financial’ aspects. As a team, we then looked at each of the elements within these perspectives and relate them to our company. For example, ‘Price’ could be margin or hourly rate and ‘Service’ could be on-time delivery or quoting response time. For the ‘Internal’ perspective, we could take ‘Productivity’ and work out value-adding percentages or VA performance – i.e. the productivity of the revenues, which as we know is the life blood of an SME subcontractor.”

    “Once we had debated and decided what we believe is significant or relevant to us, we would want to identify it as something to review. So, we gave identification codes to aspects of our strategy, for example IP (internal perspective). So, another example would be ‘01_A’ and this could equal ‘value-adding time’ (VA). Once we have done this, we gave this element a unit of measure and in this case, it would be a percentage. We then chose the frequency in which to record this data, the criteria being it had to be manageable and yet still hold significance. Finally, we chose a starting point and process owner, which is immensely important throughout this project. Process ownership is key, it’s like the sustain in a 5S project – it is imperative to get it correct at the beginning of the roadmap. I was more than aware this project was a ‘concept’ at this early stage and only time would make it habitual, which in turn would make it part of our new culture. We are all creatures of habit in some way or form and even these wonderful improvement cycles, which can develop to what seems to be a complex evolving change promoting mechanism, is at its core a fundamentally basic process machine.”

    Step three: Add the ownership…   

    “The next job on the list is to start collecting the data. There are a couple of elements to this. Firstly, we developed the means of collecting the data, such as developing queries on our MRP systems, time sheets or other specifically developed documentation. Secondly, we placed information up on our notice boards to outline the tasks the company had chosen to undertake, highlighting points of interest, underpinning knowledge on the subject matter, why the company had chosen to go down this route and the potential benefits to the business.”

    “As previously stated, staff buy-in is imperative to the success of the development cycle which includes all members of the organisational chart. Sure, a simple instruction can be given and can be expected to be carried out if the request is reasonable. However, feedback is fantastic and should be welcomed at each and every level. Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative in content, it is all part of the education journey.”

    Step four: Ensure the ownership spreads…

    “Record the data and pick an amount of time that would yield a reasonable amount of data points that could possibly start to show early signs of trends. For example, after three months it would be simple and feasible to review this data with your management team. You may be pleasantly surprised or horrifically shocked. We experienced a little of both. However, what you should have at this point is a touch of reality and it’s now a case of onwards and upwards!”

    “We then decided where it is, we believed the company needed to be, in order to stay healthy for the future. This created both ends of our chart, where we are on the left and where we wanted to be on the right. In between was to be a massive void of unknown. When you are at this point, it’s time to set some goals by adding some milestone objectives and review points. In addition, we added upper and lower control limits, building in our own tolerance banding with any item landing outside of these tracks incurring  a ‘route cause analysis’ and with that, the start of our strategy mapping tool and continuous improvem

    ent cycle was born.”

    “When it comes to which element of the business requires the most attention, we can then ration out our resources accordingly. If the results state that you need implement action; as previously stated in ‘part one’, you can then go and buy that new machine.”

    “By adding this data into a

    balance score card each quarter, we can ensure shareholders, management, process owners and employees alike, are all working to one coherent message that is being read and universally understood.”

    “How do we overcome the previously stated items? In a nutshell, we make informed decisions as a team, participation promotes belonging and ownership and with this, you can solve issues and improve your position promoting continuous improvement activities and ideas. You can adapt to issues that are significant to the health and development of the organisation. With a relatively small management team or process owners, a simple strategy, an excel spread sheet and strong communication, you can quickly understand your business and you can thrive in these choppy waters. It is only when we understand and know ourselves, that we can place ourselves into the business canvas with the confidence that we are as fit as can be; ready, willing and able to serve our supply chains and industry to the best of our abilities.”

    “So, by following this strategy, what does this mean for the future of Arnold Wragg? Coming from a position of being a company that was purchased as a going concern some 6 years ago to a point where we are most defiantly holding our own, Arnold Wragg is investing. We’re investing in people, their education and developing engineers for the future. This is giving us the opportunity to work with local colleges and advanced training platforms close to home. In addition, we have entered the world of social media on LinkedIn and Twitter and are privileged to have met many people who share the same interest goals and ambitions – with some truly great success stories. We are becoming a stockist later-on this year, we will be promising a next day delivery service on a large range of aerospace part codes and our specialised A series and AGS series locking nuts. If all goes well, perhaps some new machinery may be on the cards too. Arnold Wragg are adopting the above strategies to create a ‘Wragg’s to Riches story’. We may not be a beacon of glittering success just yet – but we’re certainly a success story with a few chapters to go in our strategic aims for future success.”