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FTSE 100 MARK WEEKS Safety still paramount +74.55 6450.07 Column - Page 4 NICK GARTLAND More obstacles ahead Column - Page 4 An EXAMINER publication KIRKLEES BUSINESS NEWS The business NEWSpaper for Kirklees Firm benefits from MAS ‘fire service’ A COMPANY making fire engines got a rapid response when it called for help to boost capacity and sales. Angloco Ltd – which designs, manufactures and distributes fire fighting and rescue vehicles to customers in more than 50 countries – worked with the Manufacturing Advisory Service to improve efficiency at its Batley site. The company, which employs 65 people, has turnover of £17.1m and exports to countries including Afghanistan and Zimbabwe, found the assembly of large vehicles was limited by factory floor space and the number of assembly bays. To increase production, build times for each unit had to be reduced – without compromising on the high standards for which the company is known. Working with MAS, the firm introduced “lean” awareness training for all members of its operational team – a skilled workforce already used to making their own decisions. Improvements included better control of the pre-build design review – with production owning this process and having a greater input into the simultaneous engineering design process. It was agreed not to start vehicle build until the design was confirmed ■ BLAZE AWAY: Rachel Dowling-Brown, of Angloco Ltd, with one of the Batley-based firm's firefighting vehicles and the materials needed were available, so that progress would not be interrupted. In addition, only one vehicle per bay would be worked on at any given time. This created space to allow parts to be delivered direct to the assembly line – making materials available, visible and reducing trips to stores. Wo rk p l a c e o rg a n i s at i o n wa s improved with a standard bench and racking system developed for each bay. A status board and daily start of shift meeting was also introduced to co-ordinate activity to support production. Angloco production director Kevin Sedgwick said: “We knew many of the changes that we wanted to make and MAS helped facilitate this process and ensure lean manufacturing principles were adhered to. “The shop floor and all the key support functions were fully involved. We have already seen the first new vehicle built one month ahead of s c h e d u l e a n d b e l ow bu d g e t e d assembly hours.” He said skilled operators were now able to focus on vehicle build, making assembly quicker and reducing “waste activity”. Stores operated more efficiently with a twice daily “milk round” supply across all bays rather than trying to service numerous individual requests. The shop was also visibly tidier. Design engineers were better informed around the timing when sub-assembly design information was needed, said Mr Sedgwick. . This resulted in faster vehicle assembly and, by taking less time, created more available capacity for additional sales. Over the years, Angloco has provided specialist fire engines and equipment to customers including Qatar Petroleum, Kuwait National Petroleum Company and BP. It has also landed UK orders from customers including Essex Fire and Rescue Service, Leeds-Bradford Airport and the Ministry of Defence. ‘Zombies’ retreat but cash flow woes worsen ‘YORKSHIRE is being plagued by fewer “zombie” businesses, according insolvency trade body R3. But the number of companies with “acute” cash flow problems has hit a new high, according to figures from insolvency trade body R3. The survey showed that the number of “zombie” businesses – those only able to pay the interest on their debt, but not the debt itself – now stands at 6,000 for Yorkshire and the North East. The figure represents 4% of all businesses in the region – down from 9% last November. However, while the number of ‘zombie businesses’ in the UK has fallen over the last year from 146,000 to 108,000, the number facing acute cash flow problems has risen – indicating that the outlook for struggling busi- nesses could be deteriorating. Nationally, 134,000 UK businesses are struggling to pay their debts when they fall due – a technical definition of insolvency. This is the highest figure in the last 12 months and 4,000 of these businesses are in Yorkshire and the North East. In total, at least 6,000 businesses in the region are struggling to pay debts when due or are negotiating payment terms with creditors. Chris Wood, Yorkshire R3 committee member and partner at Clough Corporate Solutions in Cleckheaton, said: “Businesses struggling to pay debts when they fall due are in a very perilous position. “While they have yet to enter formal insolvency procedures, businesses with such serious cash flow problems may find that the day of reckoning is not too far off. “There are fewer ‘zombie businesses’ – but this is not necessarily because businesses that have been in this position are showing signs of improvement. Far bigger cash flow problems are occupying the thoughts of these businesses’ managers.” The number of businesses in the UK negotiating payment terms with their creditors is also at a record high, up to 137,000 from 130,000 last year. Mr Wood said the time may be fast approaching for lenders, including suppliers and banks, to decide which businesses to continue to support and which to let go. He said: “With the economy recovering, it’s crunch time for struggling businesses as lenders start to make their minds up about which businesses to continue to support and which businesses to call time on. “Not all struggling businesses are doomed to failure. The prolonged period of low interest rates and government support schemes has made it hard to distinguish between businesses that are struggling but viable and those businesses that do not have a future.” R3 said an orderly “wind-down” of failing businesses was important. In 2009, R3 research found that over a quarter of corporate insolvencies were caused by the “domino effect” of another company’s insolvency. Mr Wood said the long-delayed failure of struggling businesses may cause a short-term jump in unemployment, and could hurt other businesses too.” INSIDE Getting engaged THE role played by leaders in improving workforce engagement was the subject of a conference and panel discussion staged in Huddersfield. Engaging Leadership was organised by Partners in Management and held at the Media Centre as part of the Employee Engagement Task Force, backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Department for Business Innovation & Skills to help deliver sustainable growth for the UK by finding better ways for industry to work. ● Full story - Page 8 The most trusted news brand in the business 9 , Ju l y, 2 0 1 3 Century makers A FIRM supplying doors and glazing products for commercial clients is celebrating a landmark. Dortech Architectural Systems has received an order from Manchester Academy that will take its sales of Dor-Strong Doors past the hundred mark. Dor-Strong was developed by Dortech’s maintenance division as a result of the market’s requirement for reliable robust commercial doors. ● Full story - Page 6

Kirklees Business News 09/07/13

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