Teknomek inspired by Japanese philosophy
19:44 21 February 2013
A Norfolk manufacturing firm is confident that two Japanese business philosophies can drive forward greater efficiencies and boost its bottom line.
Teknomek is a leading producer of stainless steel equipment and furniture servicing industries ranging from food processing, healthcare and pharmaceutical, where hygiene standards and sterile conditions are a top priority.
The vast product range includes tables, desks, shelving, wash troughs and waste bins.
Managing director Stephen Mallett, who joined the business three months ago following a switch from the automotive industry, is driving through the introduction of a “continuous improvement” programme based on two Japanese models, “kanban” and “kaizan” or “then and there” and “little-by-little”.
The company has also recently taken on an apprentice welder and is looking to take on two more this year, while also looking beyond its traditional core business to find new customers –including a partnership within the dairy industry.
Key to the changes are daily meetings where the 47 staff discuss key objectives and performance – both positive and negative – as well as an overhaul of its warehousing and stock systems to make them more streamlined.
Mr Mallett initially took over on an interim basis to help parent company AH Worth Ltd find a new MD before acceptiong the job full-time.
“We have got a good business model – we don’t take on what we can’t do,” he said. “We do lots of small runs. Historically we have been a very reactive business.
“What we want to do is introduce continuous improvement,” he added. “Every morning we have meetings to discuss what issues we have got. Everybody in the business now knows exactly what we are doing and where we are.
“It really is a change in the culture. It’s not new. If you go to Japan, it’s automatic. We are on the road to doing it, it’s not just for the shop floor, this is for the business.
“It’s more efficient, the girls in the office don’t have 30 invoices, they have one,” he added.
The firm, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, has an annual turnover of £5m and employs 47 staff at its base in Brunel Way on the Sweetbriar Industrial Estate in Norwich.
“We are hoping to put about 20pc on that over the next two years, through a mixture of organic growth, new products and new markets.
“We are probably looking at relationships with other people and partnerships with businesses where we complement each other.”