Professional Polishing Services (PPS) is a West Midlands business that offers bespoke metal polishing services. Based in the Black Country, they currently have a £1.5 million turnover with 20 employees. PPS provides mechanical polishing of stainless steel and other non-ferrous flat metal products to a variety of industries including architectural, nuclear and pharmaceutical.
Stainless steel is used in a variety of industries for its unique capabilities and the surface finish is essential for avoiding cross-contamination and aiding longevity. From pharmaceutical tanks to ambitious architectural applications, from burger vans to automotive excellence, polished stainless steel is part of our daily routine.
PPS wanted to improve the visibility of production and increase capacity, seeking to reduce paperwork and improve their communication with customers.By doing this, they aimed to increase turnover on one of their busiest sections by 10%, make the most of process improvement opportunities and digital technologies where appropriate, understand the technology available to them, and collect and analyse data efficiently and usefully.
PPS undertook a project with WMG’s SME Group via the Digital Innovation for Manufacturing (DI4M) programme. WMG ran a series of workshops for them to provide a roadmap to achieving their goals. Sessions were delivered in-house by Liz McArdle and Onur Eren, Innovation Managers at WMG alongside other research groups at the University of Warwick.
- Session 1 – understanding company goals and high-level processes. We also identified data capture methods and systems.
- Session 2 – an in-depth exploration of the end-to-end process and data capture methods are used to produce a statement of current challenges.
- Session 3 – develop a common understanding of the direction of the business and help the business increase awareness of digital technologies through the WMG Research Group tour focusing on measurement technologies, visualisation and automation.
- Session 4 – identify a set of scoped projects with timelines, as part of a digital roadmap to refresh the polishing process.
PPS gained a high-level view of the business’ processes and gained insights into how digital technologies could be applied to make it more efficient, with projected savings. The roadmap also gave the PPS management team knowledge of traditional optimisation projects that would help them improve.
Early adoption of the techniques has allowed the company to increase competitiveness and take on more orders while making the best use of existing resources. Going forward, they also have plans to work with Dan Peavoy, Innovation Manager at WMG, using his newly developed Manufacturing Information Platform for assessing efficiency, and collecting data.
Several of the recommendations on the roadmap address environmental issues such as reducing waste and the carbon impact of processing.
As part of the road map, the company is now looking at how we could support the feasibility of data capture from legacy equipment and data analysis to improve their machine uptime (increased the time the machine is available and productive).