The process improvement scheme championed by the Manufacturing Advisory Service is now 14 months old and has seen a transformation in the way Hills do business. Process improvement is at the heart of Hills manufacturing and has yielded many benefits including a reduction in out of stock situations and quick fulfilment of a higher proportion of orders. The team are now concentrating on 100% order fulfilment, not to mention minimizing Hills environmental impact.
The latest development saw the MAS team visit the Toyota’s National Parts Centre in Lutterworth. The team witnessed true Kaizen principles in practice and saw how the theory was applied to the management of Toyota’s UK Parts distribution business. Asset management is another challenge for the Hills MAS project team to further support the lean manufacturing principles.
Hills have been actively promoting their new flagship product UltraTek and have been positively encouraged by the uptake with a 100% growth in stockists during October. More details can be found on www.ultratekplate.com UltraTek has also received a boost in publicity as the Hills company van has been completely wrapped in an eye-catching UltraTek inspired livery. Sporting a 30 times larger than life photo of the number plate, it really displays the unique product benefits to other motorists.
The Hills team launched UltraTek to the Great British public at the final round of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). Hosted at a packed Brands Hatch Circuit in Kent at the end of October, UltraTek was very well accepted. Gary Dixon, UltraTek Product Development Manager explains, “The BTCC has a fanatical fan base and they loved UltraTek. People loved the three dimensional lettering and the fact that their number plates literally stood out from every other car on the road. With the new website for UltraTek, the premium number plate is catching the imagination of the UK marketplace and several export markets.
Wolverhampton Races was the venue for the Hills Numberplates team and their corporate guests as they settled down for the Hills Race night. With races including the UltraTek Stakes, there was a sea of Blue, Grey and White with the Hills branding dominating the historic racing venue. Adrian Berry, Sales Director commented, “It was great to see Hills branding as far as the eye could see. From our promotional videos on the big screen to trackside branding there was no doubt that it was our night, witnessed by the many Sky Sports viewers around the country.” He continued, “It is always a pleasure to see so many of our customers, they appeared to have a great night with good food and the odd drink or two! An appearance by Hills sponsored racing driver James Nash topped the night off.”
Eyeway signs have partnered with educational specialists Widgit to launch the new Patient Communication Board. Designed to aid effective communication for people with complex learning needs, who do not speak English or for people who cannot speak or hear due to their condition at that time. Patients who also struggle to communicate as a result of treatment or illness can also benefit from the product. The board features all major requests and replies, along with a pain scale and body diagram to support diagnosis in a health care setting. Featuring Eyeways hard wearing easy clean materials and bold contrast colours to aid recognition and durability.
Early November saw the Care Home Show, the UK’s largest show for the care home industry attracting the who’s who of the care sector and exhibitors showing products from dedicated signage to specialist furniture. The Eyeway Signs team had prime spot by the entrance and received a record number of visitors. There was also great interest in the new ranges on show including the Menu and Communication Boards specifically.
The new and improved Eyeway Signs website goes live in the last week of November. Featuring cutting edge web design and purpose shot photography, visitors can now browse by range, by room or even by sector meaning everybody from Architects to Care Home Managers have a personalised experience. The purchasing engine behind the site has also been transformed enabling superior online sales for users and the flexibility to offer more products than ever before. Shelley Stokes, Eyeway Signs Website Project Manager said, “Ever since Hills acquired Eyeway Signs back in March 2013 we have been making do with an outdated web presence. This was really effecting people’s ability to view the range and their perceptions of our products but the new site really bring the ranges to life.” You can visit the site at www.eyewaysigns.com
Hills were visited in early October by Dominic Jermey, CVO, OBE the recently appointed Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment. Dominic Jermey was able to see first-hand how Hills had turned around its fortunes following a general reduction in trade caused by the credit crunch. He saw how Hills not only restructured its business but also expanded its export operations and maintained a strong focus on international growth.
Dominic Jermey commented: “It is always encouraging to see great British manufacturing not just alive and well, but thriving in the West Midlands. The team at Hills have worked incredibly hard and shown both determination and innovation that has helped their international growth.” Hills Managing Director, Richard Taffinder remarked, “It is an honour to welcome Dominic to Hills, the assistance of UKTI and the Birmingham Chamber has been a valuable source of support.” He concluded, “The recent history of Hills has witnessed a complete overhaul of the business and export plays a major part in this as well as our future strategy. It is however vital that we ensure our home market and customer base is well maintained and serviced to our high standards. With innovative product development and world class service, this allows us to devote resource and investment to the development of international growth.”
Hills endlessly pursue customer service excellence and a key part of this is measuring the feelings of their customers. In addition, the measurement of customer satisfaction forms an integral part of the best practice incorporated in Hills ISO9001 accreditation. The results of the latest survey (Nov 14) made very positive reading for Hills, key highlights include; – 94% of respondents found the Hills ordering process simple and friendly – 96% found Hills product quality better than or average – 79% rated customer service as excellent – 85% would recommend Hills products and services to a colleague/friend This is a positive reflection on the Hills Numberplates products, services and staff. Hills are very grateful for everybody who took the time to respond and will utilise the results to further improve performance.
The team at Hills are a very tight knit team, so when the Hills Site Caretaker, Ray Pitt suffered a stroke earlier this year it was very worrying. Thankfully Ray is making a strong recovery and looking to return to work in the New Year. The team wanted to show their support and have pledged that instead of sending Christmas cards, they will all make a donation to the Stroke Association so they can help others like Ray in the future. Everyone is looking forward to welcoming Ray back in the New Year.