Congratulations to NW chemical firm on outstanding success

North Wales company Warwick Chemicals have been named UK winner of the prestigious National Training Award for 2010. The award reflects the outstanding success of their TPM – Total Productive Management – training programme which saw a doubling of performance and productivity, along with a 220% return on investment.

Lesley Griffiths, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills in the National Assembly for Wales – who made the presentations at a high profile ceremony at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium – highlighted Warwick Chemicals as ‘an example of the business benefits of up-skilling and training’.

Warwick Chemicals is the world’s leading supplier of TAED, an essential additive for the global detergent industry. Acetic acid is a by-product of its manufacture, and in 2007 the company developed a new sodium acetate product based on this acid. By bringing reprocessing back into their Mostyn plant, Warwick took 100 tanker loads of acid per
annum off the roads as well as saving on costs – but manufacturing the new product had proved problematical until the award-winning success of the TPM training programme.

In the words of Martin Hiorns, one of Warwick’s Manufacturing Engineers: ‘Morale amongst our operators was affected as every shift brought new challenges and variables within the process, leading to very real frustrations’. Improvement projects had led to limited success and had failed to sustain excellence – so rather than bringing in
outside Operational Process Specialists again, earlier this year Warwick put the problem-solving power into the hands of their own team with the Total Productive Management programme.

18 operators, plus maintainers and support and management staff attended the TPM training and were encouraged to engage with and take ownership of the plant and processes. Led by an experienced TPM consultant, the team ‘on the shop floor’ had the opportunity to identify the problems they met on a daily basis and express how they felt they could be improved. The four-day TPM course guided them through the key principles of improving effectiveness and efficiency, based on a nine-step programme which identifies waste, improves conditions and prevents problems by developing a continuous improvement mentality. A mini-pilot during the training programme led to the Warwick team applying new skills to their own plant - with spectacular success.

John Jones, Process Improvement Coordinator, takes up the story: “Our teams left the TPM training buzzing with enthusiasm and a new positivity. They were able to address the problems they’d been encountering by applying best practices, and they were empowered by the company – and their new insight – to change anything they needed to
improve performance. Troublesome process problems were modified, equipment upgraded, and the workplace was transformed to a more efficient, safer environment where morale and productivity have soared.’ Improving and standardising processes has doubled plant output.

With staff now fully engaged in the production process, efficiency and productivity hitting new heights - and maintenance, running and energy consumption costs all significantly reduced – it is no wonder that Warwick are now looking to roll out the Total Productive Management programme across the rest of the site, with a similar return on investment expected.

John and Martin, who received the National Training Award on behalf of the Warwick Chemicals team, are looking forward to further success. In John’s words: “We are at the beginning of the TPM journey on site – but judging by the results so far, the future certainly looks promising.