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MANUFACTURING : Sweep, sort, simplify and so improve.

Whale Tankers, the Midland-based maker of vacuum tankers, is improving its working practices after linking up with up business support experts.

The company has been working with Advantage West Midlands as part of a continuous programme of improvements to its processes, including administration, production and distribution.

Using the system of the five 'S's' - sweep, sort, simplify, standardise and sustain - to move towards lean manufacturing, the company is making savings and increasing output.

Managing director Mark Warmington has been working with AWM business relationship manager Bob Gregson to make the entire plant more efficient.

Whale Tankers makes specialist vacuum tankers, jetting equipment and road gritters.

The firm employs 190 staff at its Ravenshaw plant who own 82 per cent of the company, making the workforce Whale's largest shareholder.

Mr Warmington said: 'The work we have done with Bob has enabled us to improve our processes massively across the company.

'We have bucked the trend in manufacturing by expanding our workforce by some 30 per cent and investing in enhanced processes while the UK manufacturing sector has lost one million jobs in the last eight years.

'But if we are to continue to grow and compete on a global stage it is imperative we tighten our belts and work to reduce waste.

'Bob has helped us make a whole host of savings right across the plant which has streamlined our systems and saved us thousands of pounds in many instances.

'We have always emphasised the importance of having a highly skilled and loyal workforce, but this means we are able to have them working in a much more efficient way Mr Gregson said: 'The idea of the five S's is the first step on the road towards lean manufacturing which is what any company that wants to compete in a global marketplace needs to adopt.

'It can be as simple as making sure tools are kept within reach and kept tidy - if in a workplace you make a hundred of these small but simple efficiency savings, the impact on overall productivity and, ultimately, profits can be great

CAPTION(S):

Mark Warmington, Whale Tankers managing director, and Bob Gregson, Advantage West Midlands business relationship manager
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 11, 2005
Words:362
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