Business Improvement Techniques Produce £2 Million Savings

The Invest Northern Ireland Business Improvement Agent Programme has been a key part in driving continuous improvement at Schrader Electronics enabling the company to save over £2.4m over the last three years.

Schrader Electronics, based at Invest NI’s Antrim Technology Park, provides electronics solutions to the automotive industry and is the market and technology leader in remote tyre pressure monitoring systems.

As part of the company’s commitment to continuous improvement it signed up for the Business Improvement Agent Programme. The programme enables companies to recruit a dedicated member of staff who can introduce knowledge-led business improvement techniques.

One of Invest NI’s most successful programmes, the Business Improvement Agent Programme has helped local firms save more than £27 million since 2001. The Business Improvement Agent post is funded jointly by the company and Invest NI for three years. It aims to achieve savings for the company of at least three times the agent’s salary, for each year of the programme.

Over the period of the programme the Business Improvement Agent, Conor Drumm, helped Schrader to apply a variety of process tools and techniques in four main areas of operation: design, manufacturing, business processes and personnel development.

Conor Drumm says: “We used the Six Sigma methodology to improve design and process performance, and applied lean manufacturing techniques to look at production cycles, increasing efficiency and eliminating waste. Building teams and developing performance indicators for each department has helped embed a culture of continuous improvement right across the company.”

Over the last three years Conor has helped the company examine all the key aspects of its operation. As a result the programme has been a key driver in helping the company to realise savings of over seven times the target amount. During the period the company also doubled its workforce.

Leslie Morrison, Invest NI’s Chief Executive, says: “This is a tremendous outcome for Schrader Electronics and an indication of the value of the Business Improvement Agent Programme to even the most operationally sophisticated company.

“Schrader has long had a focus on continuous improvement. By investing in a dedicated resource to further develop this approach the company has ensured that it will remain internationally competitive and continue to bring innovative products to market in the most cost effective way.”