Wren Kitchens cooks up fresh approach to production using ShireSystem
Story in 30 seconds: Wren Kitchens the UK’s no. 1 kitchen retailer is enhancing its production capabilities by investing in ShireSystem, using smart facilities management software to respond quicker to maintenance issues, improve machinery run times, and increase output.
Better maintenance means faster manufacturing
A family business, Wren Kitchens manufactures all its kitchens in its own factories, producing over 35,000 cabinets per week from the company’s headquarters in Barton-upon-Humber. The company runs more than 200 machines, six days a week from its HQ, plus a further 200+ machines at its sister sites in Scunthorpe and Howden – so asset performance is critical.
In 2020, Wren Kitchens decided to innovate its approach to maintenance and engineering, in order to enhance production capabilities.
“We hadn’t been monitoring asset performance as closely as we needed to,” shares Liam Wray, Control Engineer at Wren Kitchens. “Everything was logged on paper, which meant reports weren’t always recorded properly, and it was hard to build a maintenance record to identify recurrent issues.
“We invested in ShireSystem to bring our production and maintenance departments closer together and give them the data they need to fix machinery issues, quickly. We want to take production up to 40-42,000 cabinets per week.”
Joined up processes for quicker production
ShireSystem delivers value by integrating with Wren Kitchens’ SCADA production monitoring system via an API. Any technical problems or performance issues detected in SCADA are pushed directly into the ShireSystem platform, creating a joined up workflow and automating maintenance work orders.
“Finding integrated software was critical to us, as we wanted to run all our production data through one system,” Liam says. “There’s no need for different usernames and passwords; all the information we need is available on one page.”
The ShireSystem roll-out is being spearheaded by Wren Kitchens’ System Administrator, Hannah Cuthbert – starting with a trial project involving a small group of engineers.
“We have around 50 people using data from the software currently, and ShireSystem is already helping us to run cohesively and save time and paperwork,” Hannah explains. “It’s also improving practices; Planned, Preventative Maintenance (PPMs), for example.
“With ShireSystem, we can instantly see what maintenance checks are due against what’s been completed.”
Enabling maintenance on the move
One critical feature that ShireSystem has provided for Wren Kitchens is Mobile Pro, which empowers production and maintenance teams to track assets both on and offline from any location, via mobile application.
Liberating staff to access insights on the move has improved the speed and accuracy of safety checks, while optimising asset set-up for efficient manufacturing. “Now that our colleagues can manage all machine information on tablets, the precheck process has been reduced from an hour to less than 10 minutes,” Liam advises.
If any issues are detected, digital work orders are pushed directly to engineers’ mobile devices via the Mobile Pro application, so they can react immediately.
“Our engineers have become more accountable for problem solving,” Liam adds. “The data they need to understand what’s gone wrong is available at their fingertips, and they can access digital documentation to fix the problem. There’s no more scavenger hunting to find diagrams and manuals.”
ShireSystem is also enabling Wren Kitchens to carry out more diagnostic work, as data can be analysed across its production lines to enable best practice configuration of assets.
A powerful bedrock for big ambitions
Improving production capacity is part of Wren Kitchens’ ambitious growth strategy, which sees the retailer and manufacturer expanding its footprint both at home and overseas, including North America.
Wren opened its 100th showroom in late 2020 and was recently granted planning permission for a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility behind its current Barton-upon-Humber headquarters.
The 990,000 square foot factory is the company’s largest single investment to date – and the performance data that ShireSystem is processing will help engineers to configure assets on the new site, ready for launch.
“Between the new factory and other developments we have planned, we’re hoping to double our manufacturing capacity,” Liam shares. “We’ll be using ShireSystem across the new site to check the set-up of the machinery we’re installing. And moving production over to the new site will enable us to upgrade machinery across our established production lines.”
ShireSystem’s API integration capabilities also mean that Wren Kitchens can add new, third party networked software and assets as its digital transformation continues, building a smart manufacturing model with continuous performance monitoring and automatic maintenance processes embedded.
The future looks bright
While maintenance and facilities management may seem like a back-office initiative, the front-end benefits are tangible – especially as Wren Kitchens passes all operational savings onto its customers.
Already, the company is using ShireSystem to reduce machine downtime, increase insight and apply diagnostic learnings across production lines, all of which is enhancing the profitability of its manufacturing process. And the journey has only just begun.
“It’s early days, but everything we’ve run through ShireSystem so far works well and we’re looking forward to running more of our maintenance tasks and processes through it as we expand our use of the software,” Hannah concludes.
“I’d recommend ShireSystem to anyone,” Liam adds. “It’s a really good piece of software.”
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