An apprentice at ventilation system market leader Nuaire has gained a prestigious quality award for his work in introducing a robust quality and efficiency improvement programme at the Nuaire group’s Welsh headquarters.
Usmaan Nasir, who works full-time for Nuaire, won the Welsh Chartered Quality Institute’s top award for putting the programme in place for the company, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Mr Nasir took on the task after one of Nuaire’s regular product reviews brought a renewed realisation that product quality had to be retained to maintain the company’s reputation yet manage the cost of quality. Department restructuring and the introduction of management training provided a framework to establish effective leadership and resulted in a workforce dedicated to quality and supportive of continuous improvements in products and processes.
His approach, which he implemented using 5S and Kaizen methods, also addressed training and resourcing issues, ensuring these were in place before changing the processes themselves, leaving a workforce properly prepared to embrace the change in culture, and avoiding the usual extended period of confusion and disruption. Establishing training facilities in the workplace also meant staff could be updated and reskilled in a familiar environment, reducing the capacity for conflict between the managers’ perception of processes and the practical necessities apparent to the production people.
Mr Nasir, who studied for a Higher Certificate in Quality Management at the University of Glamorgan (now the University of South Wales), a course recommended to him by his employer Nuaire, says that, importantly, the managers did not expect to see “an immediate regeneration” of processes. Instead, they accepted that a piecemeal approach would be less disruptive, more flexible, would bring better buy in from staff people, and made it easier to balance the costs of the change against improved productivity and quality.
And while Mr Nasir adds that the benefits have not been easy to quantify, they are clearly apparent in the improved workflow, and better motivation at all levels at Nuaire’s Caerphilly headquarters. “Implementing effective improvement initiatives can be far more difficult and expensive than textbooks and training courses generally indicate,” says Mr Nasir. “While numbers can be put on the cost of rework and other failure incidents, it is not so easy to put a price on a company’s reputation for technical excellence and reliability of supply in a globally competitive sector.”
Mr Nasir says that many academic references state improvement initiatives more often result in failure than success, with common problems such as poor communication, leadership and process knowledge. Nuaire however, renowned for its expertise, commitment to innovation and outstanding quality, had found a way to succeed by using sound management rather than textbook process to eliminate such obstacles.
Though the changes have currently only been implemented in production, Nuaire has plans to address other office functions such as design and administration using a similar, progressive style, he adds.
Steve Flood, QSHE Manager at Nuaire said: “The knowledge and experience Usmaan has gained has positively influenced the Quality culture within Nuaire through the implementation of various quality tools and techniques learnt through his studies with the professional academy at the University of Glamorgan”.