An SME team from the MTC's Manufacturing Support Services operations, based in Coventry and Liverpool, worked with managers and operators from Flexiform, helping them develop a plan which increases capacity by 40%, with an additional surge capacity of 20%, without increasing site footprint.

Furthermore, the multi-million pound investment, together with changes in working practices, will help increase productivity by 25%, with a significant reduction in operational lead time. A new factory layout, combined with the introduction of appropriate technology, will allow the company to achieve the improvements required in a five-day working week, rather than seven days.

Flexiform, which has its manufacturing facility in Bradford, as well as showrooms and hubs around the UK, supplies its office furniture and storage solutions to major companies that include Fox Media, Greggs, E.ON, Kier, Admiral and HS2.

MTC engineers, working with Flexiform management and employees, mapped out the manufacturing facility to identify issues, site constraints and bottlenecks. A new layout was designed to cope with existing requirements and future growth, while new manufacturing methods and technology were identified.

Flexiform managing director Nick Hewitt says the outcome of working with the MTC was that capital expenditure could be focused on value-adding assets rather than expensive increases in the site footprint.

"I found the MTC invaluable in this process; guiding us, educating us and keeping us true to our goals at all times. The resulting transformational plan has now been communicated to our employees and project teams set up to deliver the result. This has generated a real buzz and engagement around the business. I would highly recommend that all business leaders take time out, engage with the MTC, and work with them to develop a strategic improvement plan for their businesses.”

Dean Baker, director of the MTC's Business Launch Centre and Manufacturing Support Services team, says the work with Flexiform had demonstrated how MTC teams can use their expertise to improve productivity and competitiveness at established SMEs.

"We were delighted to help Flexiform, one of the many SMEs we are working with, to improve their processes and productivity, and maintain a successful and sustainable business. In the project we were able to employ a hub and spoke model, using MTC experts from our Coventry and Liverpool bases."

Based in the MTC's Sopwith Building, the Manufacturing Support Services team works with SMEs to improve productivity and processes. The team has access to the MTC's advanced manufacturing and research facilities, as well as the MTC's team of engineering and manufacturing experts. To date, the team has worked with more than 500 SMEs, and at any one time has more than 150 live projects.