Broadwater Mouldings expands composites manufacturing facilities

U.K.-based Broadwater Mouldings has added 1,428 sq m to its Suffolk plant, allowing it to reorganize its operations to increase capacity and efficiency.

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Broadwater Mouldings Ltd. (Beccles, Suffolk, U.K.) reported on July 25 that it has just completed the expansion of its manufacturing facilities at its main U.K. production site in Suffolk. By spanning the open space between two existing production units an expanded single, interconnected, factory space has been created. The extended building has created an additional 1,428m2/15,370 ft2 of shop floor space, along with a new all-weather covered loading bay. This latest investment has taken the total factory area for Broadwater Mouldings to just less than 7,500m2/80,500ft2, increasing the overall production space by more than 20 percent.

The new factory space has been fitted out to a high specification to comply with the latest environmental, health and safety standards. This includes a fire protection sprinkler system, fire-containment doors, smoke detectors, heat retaining high-speed exterior access doors, low-energy LED lighting and an overhead crane for the safe and efficient handling of large components. The upgrading of the factory with the new extension has helped Broadwater Mouldings attain a Suffolk Carbon Charter 2014 Bronze Award for reduced energy consumption across the entire business.

This additional factory space has enabled the management team at Broadwater Mouldings to reorganize key production areas to improve overall work flows and productivity, as well as installing much-needed additional space and capacity for its low-pressure cold press molding (LPPM) and resin transfer molding (RTM) processes, especially light RTM (LRTM). Reinforcement cutting has now been relocated into a new purpose-built enclosed work room, along with the transfer of all large component assembly operations into the newly built factory area. Further streamlining of workflow has been achieved in all areas of manufacturing, not only for molding, but also for robotic machining and finishing, component assembly, final inspection and packaging. The net result is a reduction in lead times of more than 50 percent in some cases and a doubling of closed mold production capacity.

Further capacity has been gained, not only from addressing the issue of physical shop floor space, but also by improving the systems used to manage and control the business and work flow. As well as investing in a new purpose built unit, at the same time the existing ERP system has been upgraded and new MRP functionality has been introduced to help achieve key productivity goals of: shorter lead times; reduced work in progress; increased flexibility; and single-piece workflow. The combination of the two investments has resulted in a halving of total manufacturing cycle times for a significant proportion of the business.

Matt Herbert, managing director of Broadwater Mouldings, explains: “This expansion has not only given us more capacity, but the extra space has now enabled us to reorganize the factory for greater efficiency and implement many of the excellent ideas that have come from the shop floor production teams as part of our lean manufacturing program.”

The factory expansion by Broadwater Mouldings has been in response to continued growth in both UK and export orders, especially for large medical scanning equipment for hospitals and from customers in the transportation and automotive sectors. Demand has also increased for assembled ready-to-fit finished FRP components complete with metal grills, fixing points, wiring looms, lighting and switches, which has required additional production space.