-- Success Story --
Bellagio Stone turns taps on productivity
Many small businesses that have grown rapidly from nothing will admit that their business strategy evolves as they expand. One such business is Bellagio Stone, a Warwick-based family-run kitchen and bathroom specialist business that produces its stone worktops in-house. In the 14 years since the business was founded, it has moved to bigger premises three times and increased its staff from 4 to 45.
“Not being manufacturing or factory experts, we realise that despite being a successful business we could be better organised with our processes and procedures to increase our productivity,” admits Mike Boyden, Director of Bellagio Stone.
Having heard about WMG’s expertise in industry productivity, Mike wanted to utilise our services and get support in order to grow his business. Following an end-to-end analysis of Bellagio’s production processes between February and June 2018, we identified that its main bottleneck was in the CNC machines, which manufacture the stonework using complex methods such as profiling, chamfering, recessing and cutting. Currently, the two CNC machines were capable of fulfilling 100 orders per week, but to increase these outputs the setup time would need to be reduced, which took anywhere between 40 to 80 minutes.
“WMG were extremely helpful in introducing us people that would make the biggest impact in our business, however, it was challenging to implement changes as we were so busy,” says Mike.
After reviewing Bellagio’s processes, we concluded that our internship programme would be the best fit for the work. The internship programme would give Bellagio the additional resource they needed to overcome their challenges. Over an eight-week period in Summer 2019, an intern was specially selected to become a Process Optimisation Project Assistant. They worked at Bellagio solely focusing on this CNC bottleneck with the aim of reducing machine setup times.
For the first two weeks the intern, Luckshan Loganathan, a third-year engineering student at the University of Sheffield, shadowed the CNC operators in the factory documenting the steps involved in the existing processes using a time and motion study. This information was reported during the weekly Friday morning meetings WMG had with Mike, Bellagio’s factory manager, as well as the two WMG innovation managers who were overseeing the internship.
“Luckshan was a really nice chap who was not afraid of giving us a few home truths each week. Having the confidence to say what he was observing on the shop floor was actually extremely productive,” says Mike.
Following his study, Luckshan used Lean Six Sigma tools, such as root cause analysis and spaghetti mapping, to analyse cause and effects within the current processes. Through doing this he discovered that a few simple solutions could lead to big efficiency improvements. For example, having a cleaner work station meant that there was more space to work, and replacing the rubber on the CNC suction cups, which can get worn and damaged through continual use, could help improve the performance of the machines. Also, a simple staff training schedule would help develop skills in the workforce, as well as increasing the operators’ confidence in using the machinery, especially facilitating quicker changeover times.
With support from the business and innovation managers, some of these maintenance suggestions were already being implemented before the eight weeks were complete. This meant that it would be easier for Bellagio to manage and monitor these tasks once Luckshan had completed his eight-weeks. A robust framework was also put together to ensure the business was on a path to continuous improvement.
- Machine setup times in the factory were reduced by up to 11 minutes per job regardless of the job’s complexity. This 30% time-saving meant more jobs could be done per shift.
- Instead of investing in a third CNC machine to help improve output, WMG’s work improved processes and reduced time, which saved investing in a machine that would have cost around £200,000.
- They now have a higher daily maximum number of jobs that can be completed on two machines. On average, this equates to three client jobs more per day than what they were previously doing. In turnover terms, this equates to a £5,000 to £6,000 a day increase.
- As well as boosting turnover, the results of the internship have also importantly helped boost confidence amongst Bellagio’s CNC operators because as part of the development plan they have been able to improve their experience and skills, which has led to an increased pride in their work.
“Bellagio is a successful and growing company that just needed some resources dedicated to optimising its production processes. We are very pleased that through our internship programme we have been able to unblock this CNC bottleneck and bring efficiency savings for the business. It has certainly also been a learning experience for Luckshan who has learned some vital skills that will stand him in good stead for his career,” says Onur Eren, Innovation Manager at WMG SME Group.
“The value to Bellagio of engaging with WMG has not only led to greater efficiencies and improvement in output but also an improvement in general morale across our business,” says Mike.