Connect, no.81, November/December 1996
As TWI's Joining Forces technology transfer programme reaches deeper into the UK small-firm community, hundreds of small and growing companies are taking up the option of a Product and Process Review. A significant number of these are then initiating a Feasibility Study which provides the facts to support the Review's recommendations.
Product and Process Reviews (PPRs) help companies identify and prioritise areas where modifications to their manufacturing operations will bring significant improvements to business performance. Recent changes to the operation of Joining Forces mean that PPRs are now free of charge and many more small firms are in a position to benefit from an independent, expert analysis of their manufacturing practices.
A wide variety of companies have undergone PPRs. Products have been equally diverse and included acoustic enclosures; aircrew seats; brake hoses; brewery pumps; catheters; cutting blades; diving suits; hydraulic jacks; pressure vessels; radiators; refrigerated displays; truck bodies; wheelchairs and winches.
PPRs are carried out by experienced, suitably qualified TWI engineers who spend a day at a company looking at its use of materials joining. Staff at all levels are interviewed and the TWI engineer spends a long time on the shop floor. A brief report then follows which makes recommendations for change which will enhance business performance. Reviews can cover any aspect of joining technology and related issues including materials engineering, product design,manufacturing systems and training.
A Feasibility Study may be the recommended next step after completing a PPR. A study can include trials and development work to provide the facts to support the Review's recommendations. Unlike PPRs, Feasibility Studies are not free of charge but are heavily subsidised by Joining Forces. Most Studies are carried out at TWI's Abington Hall headquarters. The outcome of a Feasibility Study is a further brief report which gives hard evidence of the potential benefits of implementing the Review.
As Joining Forces moves into its third year of operation, PPRs are set to remain the mainstay of the programme. Feasibility Studies will continue to provide vital decision-support data, and regional workshops - together with the newly established network of technology demonstrators - will push on with raising awareness of best practice within the small-firm community.
Further information from the Joining Forces help desk at TWI on 01223 893879.