Best Factory Awards Countdown
Best Factory Awards 2013
Best Factory Awards Gala Lunch Date: 27/09/2013

29 September 2012


As a class-leading OEM of vehicle and workplace storage systems and furniture, this Cornish factory proves that smart engineering and CI are the tools required to rack up success

Highly Commended: 2012 Judges' Special Award

By its own admission Bott says that almost anyone can make racking and storage, hence the trick is to offer market differentiation through factors such as innovative design, industry-leading service levels and, of course, a state-of-the-art production facility.

While Bude on the north Cornish coast may be an unlikely location to find an advanced manufacturing plant, there is nothing 'bucket and spade' about Bott, a high end brand with a track record envied by all its competitors. And for anyone thinking that cabinets, workbenches, shelves, drawers, trolleys and racks can only be so hard, it's not always run-of-the-mill: the company recently fitted out two satellite-linked, command and control fire service vehicles, for example. So, maybe there's more to storage than many imagine?

In the past two years Bott has placed high emphasis on its project work and as a result has seen its workshop business catch up with its mobile equipment revenues. However, these two distinct worlds are served by a single manufacturing culture at Bude, a factory where recent investment includes new CNC punch press and panel bender technology.

Bott sells its products either directly or via a network of resellers and distributors. Few of the latter hold stock as the company can typically supply in less than two weeks, sometimes within 24 hours. However, fluctuating demand presents Bott with some challenges. For instance, the factory needs to be both a jobbing shop and a batch production facility, providing the flexibility to make all product families, every week. So the company deploys a pull, demand-driven system to help minimise inventory levels.

To meet often inflexible delivery demands, Bott switched recently to a weekly production schedule. A key benefit has been faster set-ups in the bending section: 5.35 hours per week have been saved on each of the company's four CNC press brakes. Further set-up reductions across the factory have been achieved by the decision to group similar products into 'families' and give better workflow – important given the 1,000 works orders every day.

There are six distinct production processes here: profiling, forming, welding, finishing, assembly and packaging. Recent innovations include the introduction of self-jigging parts to speed welding, and changing from pre-paint fabrication to post-paint riveting on certain components to help double track speed on the paint line.

Other recent process changes have included the implementation of SAP MRP, a fully integrated system that has replaced Bott's obsolete legacy software to offer enhanced cost analysis, improved reporting, quicker functionality and automated workflows. ROI is expected within two or three years.

Enhanced personnel motivation is another new management initiative where a quarterly bonus scheme has been introduced for all staff based on operating profit and attendance. Sickness rates are now less than 1%, largely because any monies lost through absenteeism stay in the pot and are redistributed among attendees. There is also a pay-related merit scheme for hourly-rate staff with points awarded against 10 defined elements that include timekeeping, co-operation and teamwork.

Bott's recently enhanced training programme is an equally impressive new strategy that has already seen 16 employees achieve an NVQ Level 2 in Business Improvement Techniques. The company's established apprenticeship scheme is also fruitful: Bott's present operations director, engineering manager and production resources manager all came through it.

In conclusion, CI has been pivotal for Bott and it will continue to be. Among forthcoming initiatives is the launch of a new website featuring CGI graphics that allow customers to personalise projects and see what can be achieved with standard parts. There is definitely more to storage than many imagine: a worthy highly commended in this year's Judges Special Award.

Top 3 Points

  • High modularity means the minimum number of parts create the maximum number of customer solutions
  • Three automated punching machines run unmanned overnight
  • No single customer is allowed to command more than 10% of business


Bott Ltd

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