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Agricultural company set to reap a rich harvest

Agricultural company set to reap a rich harvest
 MAS East Midlands

SIMBA INTERNATIONAL, a leading manufacturer of cultivation and drilling equipment for the farming industry, has seen its efficiency improve by 30% thanks to its work with the region's chief manufacturing experts.
2021-10-04, by Frank Flegg, Director at BNI East Midlands

#Agriculture || #UK || #Manufacturing ||

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The innovative manufacturer based in Lincolnshire and employing 65 staff has invested 30 days with the Manufacturing Advisory Service over the last nine months to examine its production systems that were costing the business thousands of pounds a year.

From its Sleaford headquarters, Simba designs and manufactures a range of products that include disc cultivators, soil loosners and earthmovers. Its continued expansion brought about the need for the company to streamline its factory and make its assembly systems much more efficient.

Dorothy Lyth, the Financial Director who oversaw the project commented: "We had expanded quickly over the years and were simply focussed on fulfilling our busy order book without really examining how much products were costing us to make. Our customers are farmers who work in seasons, so our busy time is in spring and summer when we need to fulfil 65-70% of our orders and they need to be on time. We knew we could be much more efficient with our processes so that there was a consistency of quality and better on-time deliveries. Until we sat down with MAS, we didn't realise how much improvement we could make and they have probably helped us to increase our efficiencies by 30% and we haven't finished yet."

Improvements included introducing accurate bills of materials, or lists of components for each product, so that the assembler received the right parts from stores to complete the build. This was developed further to produce separate picking lists for assembly and for sub assembly. Before they were split, the stores picked both items together and the assembler had to go through and separate all the components, wasting valuable assembly time.

On the shop floor, wall racks were introduced so that all the nuts and bolts and fasteners were on hand, clearly labelled and fully stocked by the external supplier. This eradicated the need for the assembly staff to sift through trays for the right screws or bolts or to leave their workstation to find them.

"It all sounds very straightforward, but there is a huge amount of research that goes into every improvement that we implemented", commented Malcolm Brown, the practioner who worked with Simba. "For example, we wanted to get the build time down of one of Simba's leading cultivators, the Xpress. It took one man 34 hours and through a division of tasks, we reduced it by 25% using two people. We also managed to reduce the amount of walking that they did - from 4.3K to virtually nothing."

Other improvements included improving the painting process. Components were being suspended by chain which meant that small parts were being missed during spraying and had to be re-touched at a later date. Simba introduced different suspension methods so that all the painting was done in one go, saving valuable production time.

Simba International export to more than 30 countries and is looking to expand significantly over the next few years to increase its turnover to £20M by 2010. They are in the process of developing two new products and components and are working with MAS on preparing the people and the tooling so that their introduction in integrated seamlessly.

Frank Flegg

Frank Flegg contributor to
Director at BNI East Midlands
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