Crowcon Detection Instruments Limited is based in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. For over 45 years, they’ve specialised in the production, development, and manufacture of gas detection instruments for oxygen, flammable, and toxic gas hazards. They operate internationally through a network of regional offices and channel partners.
Crowcon has 225 employees and is part of Halma, a global group of life-saving technology companies with a mission to grow a safer, cleaner and healthier future for everyone, every day.
Frazer Mackay was appointed Operations Director at the company in May 2017 after working in a similar role at Siemens Magnet Technology. In this previous role, Frazer’s introduction of LEAN training to the factory shop floor helped the company to win the overall Factory of the Year 2015 prize at the Works Management Best Factory Awards in London. The company also scooped the People & Skills Development award, as well as Best Engineering Plant award.
Spotting an opportunity
On joining Crowcon, Frazer saw some similarities between how Crowcon operated, and how Siemens operated before implementing LEAN.
He thought that there needed to be a firm strategy in place, and guidance ‘road maps’ for the employees – for example, a recent staff survey showed there was plenty of room for improvement in terms of motivation.
Frazer immediately enlisted the help of Fedden USP to embark on a three-year programme to ensure that all 108 employees in the Operations Division undergo some form of Lean training. Ten employees have been selected initially to undertake the LEAN Business Improvement Techniques (BITs) NVRQ Level 2 Workshop. Lean Office training will take place at a later date.
The work so far
Collin Allaway, consultant at Fedden USP, delivered the LEAN BITS Level 2 Apprenticeship Workshop in partnership with MIT Skills. The workshop consisted of a five-day LEAN workshop (normally one day per month), supported by 14 visits of individual mentoring over a 12-month period. In parallel with this, delegates run an improvement project within Crowcon, and are awarded an NVRQ nationally-recognised qualification based on their ability to deliver a tangible improvement to operational performance (for example, improvements in productivity).
The first ten employees completed the fifth day of the workshop in November 2017, during which they presented their improvement projects to members of the Crowcon board.
The workshop was delivered under the Adult Apprenticeship Framework as Crowcon is progressing down a process improvement pathway, and has been able to benefit from the Apprenticeship Levy introduced by the Government in April 2017. Please contact Colin Allaway at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on
In September 2017, Crowcon requested that Fedden USP also deliver a two-day Process Mapping Workshop to 12 delegates to prepare for the introduction of a proposed Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
Bryan Palmer, Six Sigma and Lean consultant with Fedden USP, delivered the workshop to produce:
- A high-level process map of the overall business (product-focused)
- A Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs & Customer (SIPOC) analysis of three business areas, highlighting the main processes that require detail-level mapping
- Two detailed level process maps identifying improvement opportunities.
Bryan was also able to deliver an 8D Problem-Solving Workshop made up of 11 delegates from the Technical Support Team, and some from the Development Team. Crowcon had recently implemented QPulse as its quality system for tracking and measuring its problem resolution processes, such as non-conformance. For non-conformance management, the company uses a version of 8D to resolve problems and put in relevant corrective and preventative actions. It relies upon several functions around the business to carry out the work required to complete the information, such as technical support, man end, development, as well as quality.
Bryan delivered the one-day workshop to assist a Crowcon core team to review the issue resolution of customer concerns. This included an introduction to the 8D problem-solving methodology and its associated tools, mapping the current customer resolution process, conducting a gap analysis of the Q-Pulse system as currently configured, and identifying any area for further work.
The workshop output included:
- A process map of the customer concerns resolution process from arrival at ‘Tech Support’ through ‘Development’ to change implementation.
- A mapping of Q-Pulse sections to the 8D steps with identification of responsibilities for completion.
- Post-It note brainstorm identifying process improvement opportunities and areas for further work.
The results to date
As Crowcon is only just embarking on the LEAN journey, it’s a little premature to report on any tangible results at this stage. However, Frazer Mackay commented:
“From my experience at Siemens Magnet Technology, I am very aware of the difference that LEAN working can make to a business and I’m confident that we will see a positive impact on both the business and our employees at Crowcon as LEAN starts to gather pace. It will help the company to respond to growth in an efficient and productive way and, at the same time, it will increase employee engagement throughout the business over the next two to three years. Who knows, we may be in a position to win some sort of industry award in the not too distant future.”
Neil Fedden added:
“I am really pleased to be working with Frazer again and in time, once we get the structures, processes, and procedures in place and running efficiently, the benefits will start to filter through to the bottom line of the business. The employees will also have much more pride in their work as they see the benefits of their improvement projects on the business and this will spur them on to greater success over the coming years.”