British Industry At Its Collaborative Best in Response to COVID-19

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British Industry At Its Collaborative Best in Response to COVID-19

Spitfire Consultancy was thankful to be able to rapidly respond and make an important contribution to the nationwide calls to arms made by the UK government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been actively involved in three key areas of the co-ordinated COVID-19 response,” confirms Ian McDuff, Director at Spitfire Consultancy. “We were asked to use our expertise in ramping up production and improving efficiency, with increased quality and cost control to support the Ventilator Challenge UK, NHS face visor production, and increased food supply to hospitals.”

Ventilator Challenge UK Background

The Ventilator Challenge UK was launched by the British government to procure 15,000 additional ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients in hospitals around the country. It brought together a consortium of significant UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors to produce medical ventilators for the UK.

Spitfire was tasked with aiding the development of a ‘pop up’ production line to increase quality of product and line efficiency. Spitfire carried out on-line investigative work with area engineers, supervisors and team leaders to identify bottlenecks and implement solutions which would rapidly improve product flow and increase the daily output.

A major challenge was to achieve consistency of build of the intricate array of parts whilst ensuring the exacting quality levels were achieved on this life saving device. All of this was managed with a transient workforce of volunteers working across multiple shifts and unfamiliar with medical ventilator assembly.

This challenge was met head on with the design and implementation of very detailed Standardised Work Process. An enhanced ‘Standard Operation’ was coupled with the use of a Digital Visual Manual on critical operations. The Digital Manual was designed to be highly interactive, support self-learning with the aim of having fully trained personnel producing ventilators at pace to the right quality in the shortest possible time. The Visual Manual was particularly useful for volunteers with no previous manufacturing experience enabling rapid ramp up of the required knowledge and skills.

The required 15,000+ ventilators were delivered on time to an ambitious schedule and are now all available to the NHS.

NHS Face Visor Production

The lack of PPE across the UK has been widely publicised throughout the coronavirus response. The urgent need for personal protective equipment once again saw Spitfire able to apply its production optimisation know-how to improve efficiency, increase output and enhance quality. Working in collaboration with a facemask manufacturer which had received an order for circa 20 million NHS grade face visors, which needed to be delivered in the shortest time possible. The manufacturer’s existing infrastructure simply could not produce the volume of products needed in the timeframe given. A plan was developed to re-locate production to a new site and purchase new machinery to vastly increase output.

Spitfire supported the development of the new factory layout to optimize efficiency across every stage of the manufacturing lifecycle, from raw material in, to product out. This design work was coupled with the development of shop floor operating practices to assure quality standards, cost efficiencies and quick delivery of the masks while also taking care of and developing staff members.

The output from the new factory is well underway with visors being shipped to the NHS. The manufacturer’s staff are also receiving further support in the new facility to increase efficiency even further and guarantee the supply of this essential equipment as demand continues to increase.

 UK Food Production Challenge

The Covid-19 pandemic led to an enormous and rapid strain on NHS supply chain capacity. One business feeling the strain was a Spitfire client who is a key food supplier to the NHS and other private healthcare sectors. It needed to rapidly scale up output to satisfy a sharp increase in demand for its chilled and frozen products.

To satisfy the roughly 30% increase in demand for hospital meals, special intervention and action was required. At a time where all employees were understandably concerned for their own wellbeing, the intervention required strong situational leadership to support the key worker team in critical areas.

Spitfire project managed the identification, design and implementation of immediate capacity increases in production coupled with focused improvements identified in the supporting functions of Production Planning and Engineering.

Through a 6-week period of both on-site and remote support, Spitfire delivered 31 key improvement actions and implemented Short Interval Control and other Visual Controls to support real time production decision making allowing the food manufacturer to increase its output by over 30% and meet the NHS demand.

About Spitfire

We have been around since 2004 and continue to be different.

Today businesses are facing unique and historic challenges. The need to adapt, innovate, rethink, rebuild and grow by harnessing the capabilities of people has never been greater.

At Spitfire we firmly believe People Transform Performance and our focus is on enabling our customers to be ‘The Best they can Be’.

We work globally helping clients to thrive in a rapidly changing world by unlocking potential and accelerating growth whilst building resilience and agility. Together we continue to achieve exceptional results with positive lasting impact on more than the bottom line.

We do this by a unique combination of Strategy Development, Performance Delivery and Inspirational Coaching to help businesses unlock their potential and turn their ambitions into reality.

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