A Model of British Manufacturing: Koso Kent Introl
the way in Britain’s fragile economic recovery, and that this sector is embracing the need to invest, in order to remain competitive, globally.
Nowhere is this more evident than at Yorkshire-based Koso Kent Introl, where bespoke topside and subsea valves have been manufactured for oil and gas customers all over the world for more than
Understanding that their customers are embarking on increasingly sophisticated production projects, that quality and safety are even more important following events in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, and that cost will always be the fundamental driver, KKI has embarked on a significant investment programme recently, to ensure their position at the forefront of the industry is maintained.
A seven-figure sum has been invested across the company, to increase capacity, improve efficiency and to maintain the quality of output on which KKI’s reputation is built.
Denis Westcott, Managing Director of KKI is clear why this strategy is the right one: “The investment we are making is in our people, in our processes, in our facilities and in new machinery, and it’s a clear statement of our ongoing commitment to provide a world-class service, to our customers around the world.”
Wetcott’s commitment to this programme is already in evidence at the KKI site in Brighouse, where change is very much in the air.
For a start, a third factory has recently been opened, just a few hundred yards from the original factory on Armytage Road, where the company has been based since the 1960s. The new facility is now the home of the Aftermarket team; responsible for service and spares. The 18,000 square foot site has been configured with absolute efficiency in mind, and fitted out to enable the team to be entirely self-sufficient; manufacturing their own parts and housing their own stock. Since time is almost always the customer’s greatest concern in aftermarket orders, this will enable the team to be even more responsive and efficient in turning around valves.
The new facility also creates extra capacity for scheduled shut-down or maintenance programmes that demand high volume turnaround in short timeframes.
The machine shop is currently being reconfigured to accommodate several new machines which will be arriving in the coming months. Alongside a Mazak Integrex 200-4T, due to be installed in May 2011, an order was placed in February for a Dorries Scharmann Machining Centre, a piece of kit so complex that it will take 15 months to be produced in Germany and a further two to install. This machine will create a vastly more efficient way of working on the shop floor, giving the team the ability to produce higher volumes in less time, with less waste.
Lynn Mowbray, Operations Director, explains the benefits: “This new machinery is going to make a huge difference to our operational capability; especially for some of the high volume projects we have on our order books. It’s vital that we have the ability to keep production in-house and maintain absolute standards of quality.
“In the context of the company’s ongoing Continuous Improvement programme, this will help us to maintain our position at the forefront of our industry. We’re aiming for world-class engineering and manufacturing practices in every aspect of what we do.”
In keeping with the ideal of self-sufficiency, and not wishing to rely on third parties for any stage of the production process, KKI’s investment has also included extending its on-site testing capabilities. Construction of a state-of-the art gas test facility (one of possibly only 3 or 4 in the UK, currently) is well underway, and is expected to be fully operational by July 2011. New, larger and better equipped testing bays are already in place for hydro-testing, body gas testing, API testing and fugitive emissions testing, as well as million-step test hardware that runs 24/7.
Having this capability in-house is vital in being able to control cost, time and quality across the KKI range. It will also enable KKI to supply testing services to other manufacturers for the first time.
Significantly, KKI realises that, whilst investing in infrastructure is important, it’s equally vital to ensure that a similar investment in its people is made at the same time. For this reason, Denis Westcott personally instigated the Continuous Improvement philosophy that is evident in the progress that KKI is making towards its goals of quality, efficiency and excellence.
It’s this vision of ensuring that employees take pride and personal responsibility for their work, and are fully engaged in seeking better ways of working that will be crucial to KKI’s enduring success. In many ways, this has always been the culture at KKI, but, in the face of increasing competition and industry pressures, it’s clear that this ideal is more important than ever. As a result, the KKI team is energised by the investment in its future capability, and is more than ready for the challenges ahead.
Koso Kent Introl
Tel: 01484 710311
Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 17
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