Investment Boosts A1 Flue Systems

A1 Flues directors TJ Duncan-Moir and John Hamnett
TJ Duncan-Moir and John Hamnett, Directors of A1 Flues

A1 Flue Systems have invested £250,000 in new machinery, that has boosted productivity by almost a third over the past year.

The company has made key infrastructure upgrades to its factory at the Boughton Industrial Estate, near New Ollerton, and reconfigured the flow of its factory assembly line as part of a programme of ongoing improvements.

It has led to the creation of eight new roles in its manufacturing, sales, estimating and installation departments since the start of the year after improving productivity and efficiencies.

The company, which employs 140 staff, is the UK market leader in the design, manufacture and installation of commercial and industrial chimney, flue and exhaust systems.

Director TJ Duncan-Moir, who was named businesswoman of the year at last year’s Nottingham Post Women in Business Awards, said the rationale behind the reconfiguration has been to create a better flow of products throughout the various manufacturing stages within the 54,000 sq ft factory.

“We work on more than 5,000 projects each year, and that can range from a simple replacement flue for a school boiler in Devon to a complete flue and chimney system for a skyscraper in Dubai, and an analysis of our complete manufacturing processes meant we were able to identify ways to increase our productivity,” she said.

“For example, our multi-skilled employees had their own work areas and could produce a range of products, and they were often doing this to demand, usually to tight deadlines.

“However, we have moved to a layout of dedicated manufacturing zones for specific products – such as elbows, tees and flue pipe – which has alleviated a lot of the bottlenecks we had.

“The results have been dramatic, as we have been able to make more products in less time – which has been so important at a pivotal time for our business, where we have seen a huge uplift in project wins since Brexit.

“In the last half of 2016 alone, we saw a £1m increase in orders, due in part to the price hikes forced upon our competitors that have to import their products from Europe.

“All of this has enabled us to take on more staff across the different departments of our business and is giving us a stronger platform for more growth.”

Fellow Director John Hamnett said a complete electrical rewire of the factory enabled the company to move machinery and accommodate a new plasma cutter.

He added: “We have been astounded by just how much the rewire has given us the opportunity to reconfigure all the machinery in our factory to create new manufacturing zones.

“The new zones still enable us to utilise the talents of our multi-skilled workforce, it just means we can plan production more efficiently – especially as we have a lot of larger projects at the moment, and it’s vital that we manufacture them and get them to sites all around the world within the critical deadlines we have to work to.”