HillsTalk April 2014

A moment with Richard

2014 is set to be another good year for Hills Numberplates with the recent launch of the new HD film and the continued market success of MetaTek. The recent expansion into Unit 4 and improvements in the manufacturing process has enabled a consistent stock level to be built, helping us maintain customer service levels to our network. The continued partnership with the MAS team is now bringing rewards for all the hard work, resulting in a reduction in the level of work in progress, which is a great achievement to the team involved. Our investment in people continues with the recruitment of a new Area Sales Manager, Louise Vickers who is covering Area 2.

HD film rolls out

After three years of research and development, February saw the roll out of the new HD Film. This latest generation of film, meets the demands of climate change and has a much higher initial “grab” when laminating. The HD film has the added advantage of no silicon release agent, which gave the previous optical film a “rainbow effect” prior to its first car wash.

After the production of the plate there is a small change in the removal of the top liner. To help this process we produced a HD Film liner removal tool. Customers using HD film should have received two free of charge tools with your initial orders. If you need further supplies of the Hills HD removal tool they are available to purchase via our sales team on 0121 623 8050.

Focus on manufacturing

We are constantly striving for efficiency and improvement and as such our key processes have been reviewed, tested and introduced. We have engaged with the West Midlands Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), who have helped us to introduce a number of key principles.

Our manufacturing facility and team have been busy implementing these series of changes over the past 6 months, turning the theory into practice. We have replanned the factory floor and changed the flow to improve efficiency. Hills are now confident that they can meet the changing demands of our customers in a more efficient manner.

Hills have recently invested in two new Gravograph engraving machines, which are being overseen by Julie Abraham, the Large Format Print Team Leader. Gravograph, produce the finest durable engraving and marking machines, this machine will be utilised for Eyeway signs and for future automotive projects.

MAS update

The West Midlands Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) have continued working with the Hills management team to implement leaner and more efficient production processes. The team leaders have had the task of integrating the new ways of working into the day-today processes. They have had training and support in areas including asset management, lean manufacturing and an introduction to the Kaizen principles.

The production team leaders are

Mike Pope, Julie Abraham, John McCarthy, Chris Grainger, David Mayes, Zimmah Graham and Danny Caffrey.

Covering areas from lamination, finished plates to large format printing and engraving.

Spotlight on MetaTek

Our aluminium based number plate brand, MetaTek continues to go from strength to strength and it now commands 60% of our total number plate volume. With MetaTek rapidly becoming the product of choice we were delighted to see that 6 out of the top 10 companies in the AMI 100 are now using aluminium. By the 6th of May our ready-made plate service will have also moved over to 100% MetaTek.

Spotlight on Eyeway Signs

Eyeway Signs have had a busy start to the year with its range of dementia signage going from strength to strength. Following on from this success the teams have been developing several new signage ranges, which will be launched to the trade over the next coming months.

Trade shows are a key feature in the calendar for Eyeway signs, the team has just exhibited at The Care Show Bournemouth, next in the busy show calendar will be The Alzheimer’s show in London.

Eyeway Signs have recently been awarded the ISO standard 9001, 14001 and 18001. The ISO standards bring a quality assurance to our customers and give us a unique competitive edge versus our competitors.

Sarah Dobbins in the Eyeway Signs team has just completed her Champions training day to become a Dementia Friend’s champion. A Dementia Friends Champion is a volunteer who encourages others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community. Sarah has been sharing her experience with the larger Hills team. The Dementia friend’s initiative aims to improve people’s understanding of dementia and its effects. We are proud that Sarah is able to help make a difference as a Dementia Friends Champion.

If you would like to get involved please visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk for more information or to register.

Trek50 Challenge

Two teams from Hills Numberplates & Eyeway Signs have bravely stepped forward to take part in the TREK50 challenge. Team 1 is David Fitzwilliams, Richard Adamson, John McCarthy and Danny Floyd. Team 2 is Richard Taffinder, Chris Grainger, David Mayes and Spencer Mayes.

TREK50 requires teams of 4 to complete 50 miles in 24 hours along the Pennine Way, starting at 7am on the 21st of June. It is broken down into six sectors; the route includes almost 8,000 feet of ascents, which is the equivalent of climbing Snowdon and Ben Nevis.

Bravery award

As many of you read in the last issue of Hills Talk, Hills Operations Manager, Mark Osman rushed to the aid of an elderly lady, who had been left badly shaken after a would be robber got into her car and grabbed her handbag. He chased and held the assailant until the police could attend.

Mark has recently been presented with a cheque for £150, for his bravery by the High Sheriff of Staffordshire. The ceremony was held at the Crown Court with attendees including the Staffordshire Chief Constable. Congratulations to Mark, a very modest hero.

Hills Team News

We would like to welcome Louise Vickers who joined us as the Area 2 Sales Manager, covering a region from Cornwall to Manchester. Louise previously worked for Proctor & Gamble in the Wella Hair Division so brings vast territory sales experience and has been busy making her way around the region to meet her customers. “Since joining Hills four months ago I have to say it is a very friendly company, everyone has made me feel extremely welcome and after coming from a large company I can’t believe how quickly things get done and authorised. It’s been a massive personal challenge going from hair care to number plates. I honestly thought there was a white one and yellow one and I never knew there were so many different styles and ways to make them”.

School visit

At Hills we are keen to support our business partners; working with Lombard Asset Finance we recently had a visit from 27 Year 6 pupils from the West House Prep School in Birmingham. They had a factory tour, were tested on their new skills through a rigorous question and answer session from our experts and then crafted their own number plate using our laser systems. From the quality of the answers we think they have some future Team Leaders in the making.

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