Case study

Graphoidal adopts lean manufacturing with the help of Enscite

Chesterfield based manufacturer, Graphoidal, has received subsidised training and one-to-one support from Enscite on lean manufacturing principles, including the 5S methodology. This is helping the firm improve its operations and productivity.

About Graphoidal

Graphoidal designs and manufactures lubrication and coating technology for the glass container and tableware industries. Its objective is to provide highly efficient solutions that make its customers’ manufacturing processes more efficient, productive and profitable. It’s part of the Rondot Group, a market leader in the hollow glass industry.

Support to become leaner and more efficient

Originally a family-owned business founded in the 1950s, Graphoidal was scaling up and looking to improve its production environment and processes. Its Operations Director, Carl Singleton, explains:

“We’ve been in the same building for ten years, and we’re running out of manufacturing space. So I wanted to reconfigure the workshop to provide a more organised, productive environment. Having worked for companies like Toyota and GKN, I was also aware of the benefits of lean manufacturing, and felt it was time to adopt this approach.”

A chance meeting with a University of Derby representative at a networking event, led to Carl finding out about the support available to SMEs through Enscite. He was put in touch with Colin Hanson-New, an expert in operations and supply chain management, who’s also worked for companies like GKN, Alstom, and Massey Ferguson.

Carl says: “Colin is an academic but also has first-hand industrial experience in quality and production, so he’s relatable. I had several one-to-one sessions with him to discuss our company’s challenges and how we could address them. From that, we organised training workshops with our employees on lean manufacturing and the 5S methodology.”

These sessions were followed by practical exercises on the shop floor to help apply the learning, including an audit and value stream mapping. Carl says these real-life exercises were particularly well-received by staff.

A Graphoidal cold end spray machine

The impact so far

Graphoidal have just started reorganising the workshop using their new knowledge — a process that will take several months — but already there is a visible difference in certain areas.

“Some people have started to apply the 5S method to their areas and are putting more thought — and taking more pride — in organising the space,” says Carl. “We had some external visitors in the other day who remarked that the workshop looked really tidy. And when we have completed the reorganisation and applied the lean manufacturing tools, we expect our productivity to significantly increase.”

Longer-term, the firm hopes to move to a bigger facility, but this could take up to two years, so it’s essential to make changes to their existing workshop now. Even with a new facility, Carl knows the training they’ve done will serve them well: “It will be a blank canvas so we can design it from the outset with lean principles in mind.”

Overall, Carl says working with Enscite has been “an extremely positive experience. Over and above the workshops, it’s offered me validation that I’m heading down the right route. The next steps are now to ensure we have buy-in from all staff — because like any change, it needs to be managed well — and to get on and implement it.”

As a result of this project, Graphoidal has now become a case study for an undergraduate Applied Operations Management module taught by Colin Hanson-New, and Carl has been in to present to students and answer their questions. This has had a positive impact on the student’s learning, bringing theoretical concepts to life.

Man working on machinery in the Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering

Growing your business, together

If you need help to develop your small or medium-sized business, we can help. From specific business support programmes and funding, to free skills workshops, networks and partnerships.

Get support for your businessGet support for your business