Metalwork and mechanisms manufactured by Poole based KW Engineering Ltd are used in a variety of aircraft cabin applications.
Formed in 1983 by Keith Ward, the company has built its reputation as a subcontractor on the consistent production of high quality precision parts. In addition to its aerospace business, it also produces components in high volume for medical applications. Earning and maintaining supplier approval is crucial to the success of the business, which has now reached a turnover of £2 million. Most recently the company has gained approval from Airbus, to add to its approvals from Flight Refuelling and Eaton Aerospace.
Effective job and quality management is an essential element in the obtaining of approvals. Keith Ward said, “A decade ago we installed a bespoke job management system but, as our requirements evolved, it became very labour intensive and had insufficient reporting capabilities, leading us to install Tricorn’s Job Processing Software and ISO Quality Software. We considered developing another bespoke solution, but found that the Tricorn system already had the features we were looking for.”
The first big improvement for KW Engineering was in stock control. Aerospace parts require traceability and frequently use very specialist materials. Keith Ward continued, “When we installed Tricorn we carried out a thorough inventory check giving us more visible and accurate information. Now, bar code record- ing of goods received notes and stock movements ensure that we use offcuts, and that stock levels are live and accurate.
The system also gives us information about the latest material price, which helps us to be consistent over costs. The net result is that we are ordering significantly less material.” For some of its high volume components, KW Engineering makes parts for stock. The Tricorn system allows parts to be called off to meet a delivery schedule and advises if sufficient parts are already available to complete an order. Similarly, the system will also manage minimum stock levels, automatically indicating when additional works orders need to be placed.
Administrative workload has eased with the introduction of the soft- ware. Once a quotation becomes an order, all the relevant data is automatically transferred into the production module and the necessary job cards are created. KW Engineering has over 400 active works orders at any one time so this saves a significant amount of effort. Bar code readers monitor the progress of parts through the factory, and this makes it easy for the company to produce a job status report for customers. It also adds bar codes to delivery notes, making it possible for its customers to record the arrival of components in their own management systems, further increasing their satisfaction levels. Keith Ward added, “ We plan to increase the company turnover by 50% over the next four years. The Tricorn system gives us the capacity to do this without a proportionate increase in our administrative overheads.”
Impact on Business
The Tricorn ISO Quality Software has played a valuable role in achiev- ing aerospace approvals. The system will generate reject notes and non-conformance reports, as well as documentation detailing any preventative or corrective action. Tricorn also includes a complete calibration database. This enables KW Engineering to have a list of duties each day to ensure that procedures, audits and equipment are always compliant.
Other tools allow the company to keep records of employee training and to monitor supplier performance. Keith Ward said, “Our aerospace customers found our ability to securely approve our suppliers was an important factor in their approval process.” He concluded, “Having put significant effort into the implementation of the Tricorn software, we are now starting to reap the rewards. It will have a positive impact on our profitability over the long-term by improving our operational efficiency, enabling us to present ourselves more professionally and providing the management reports we need.”