Digital future beckons for manufacturing business


Sheet metal firm Salamander Fabrications has partnered with Siemens Mobility and The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) to undergo an environmentally friendly project that will transform its operations to become entirely paperless.

As well as committing to improving the company’s carbon footprint, the forward-thinking Slaithwaite-based manufacturer wants to provide an even more streamlined and efficient service for customers.
The project should enable Salamander’s workforce to take enquiries – such as computer-aided designs – and import them straight into its automated machinery. From there, the smart machinery can work out which relevant materials are required and how long it will take, leading to less metal waste and a swifter finished, high-quality product.

Employees will also be given tablets to track production progress and update customers in real-time – which had previously been completed via paper-based, manual processes. In addition, Salamander wants to digitise its entire admin function such as payroll, annual leave requests, and relevant HR guidelines and policies, to further help the environment.

David McStrafick, general manager of Salamander Fabrications, said: “This will transform the way in which we operate – both internally from an infrastructure point of view and externally because it will hopefully help us to win new business and remain competitive.

“Being able to provide customers with the reassurance that their high-quality products will be completed with shorter lead times will go a long way towards our growth ambitions of doubling our turnover to £10m by 2023.”

The digitisation project has been made possible following Salamander’s experience in the rail industry and building of carriage components. This work has attracted the attention of Siemens Mobility – the global organisation’s train division – because it wants to establish a new facility in Goole, West Yorkshire, to build trains in the UK.

As part of its forward planning, Siemens Mobility has partnered with The MTC to assess and improve Britain’s supply base, and therefore provide further help to small businesses such as Salamander.
Following a visit to the Huddersfield factory prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, The MTC’s senior consultant Ross Ryan confirmed it will match-fund the paperless project through its UK REACH grant scheme – covering 50% of the overall costs.

“We want to continue to support British manufacturing and encourage organisations throughout the nation to be competitive on a global scale – especially during the most difficult of climates,” Ross commented.

“By providing support for Salamander’s transformation into a digital-first firm, the team will be able to work smarter, swifter and more efficiently. We’ll also be supplying lead application engineers to assist in the transition, who can share knowledge and provide expertise in this new way of working.”

Speaking about how this project can transform small and medium businesses such as Salamander, Ross added: “It puts the firm a notch above others in terms of flexibility. The factory is already more than doubling its capacity via automation, so this next move will help to further enhance its customer service provision and ambitious growth plans.

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