SC 21 Silver status for 30-employee sheet metalworker Hermitage Sheet Metal

2 mins read

Hermitage Sheet Metal has become one of the smallest engineering companies in the UK to secure a silver World Class Supply Chains for the 21st Century Award (SC21).

The company employs just 30 people at its 12,000 sq ft facility in Wilbury Way, Hitchin, Herts. Backed by strategic and financial assistance from the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), the sheet metal, fabrication and CNC machining specialist has introduced 5S, PDCA methodology and KPIs to help it review performance and make necessary improvements. The recruitment of a new production manager has seen lean become commonplace across the shop floor and helped it deliver quality and on-time delivery scores of 99.9% and 98.49% respectively. Importantly, the Silver SC21 Award also helps to strengthen existing relationships with a blue-chip client base, which includes BAE Systems, Grant Instruments, Lockheed Martin and Ultra Electronics. "There is no standing still in the sectors we operate in and, as a relatively small player in a big field, we have to ensure we are on top of our game to compete," explains David Spencer (pictured), managing director of Hermitage Sheet Metal. "SC21 gave us the platform to identify what we were doing well and the areas in which we needed to improve. It also showed us the importance of implementing new manufacturing techniques, communication with our supply chain and softer issues, like making sure we got buy-in at every level of the company. "We now have levels of quality and delivery that were impossible four years ago, along with inventory reduced by two-thirds and 35% growth." Established in 1965, Hermitage is on course to turnover £2.5 million and currently supplies components to aerospace, defence, medical, oil and commercial industries. In addition to core capabilities in sheet metal work and CNC machining, the firm is also able to offer CAA approved coded welding, alocrom plating and light assembly work. The firm's SC21 journey started in 2009 when it was invited by Specialist Aviation to take part in Manufacturing Advisory Service-funded training to help prepare firms for embarking on the accreditation. Following initial difficulties, the company renewed its efforts with the strategic assistance of MAS, who helped it with developing a strategy and £4,000 of funding towards bringing in specialist knowledge. Boosted by this support, Hermitage Sheet Metal successfully secured Bronze in the final months of 2011. Mr Spencer again: "The framework we put in place at the start of the journey gave us the perfect springboard to go for the next step-up and it took us less than 14 months to produce the levels of performance needed to attain the SC21 Silver award." Robin Cheyne, MAS Advisor, adds: "You can't underestimate Hermitage's achievement in securing a standard that many companies 10 times their size fail to come to terms with. "The management team recognised the need to get buy-in across the company and they were not afraid to ask for help from us or other external specialists when necessary. "There is no doubt the SC21 Award will help it retain high profile contracts, as well as putting the firm in the shop window for new business due to be put out to tender shortly." Note: MAS, which is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), works for manufacturers and through experienced advisors can help shape strategy, create new products, reduce waste and review supply chains. Companies can take advantage of a free review that identifies key priority areas and funding is available for improvement projects focused on increasing efficiency, developing new products, strengthening supply chains and boosting sales.