The Manufacturer: Growing up

AGC AeroComposites, manufacturers of aerospace and defence solutions, and training and consulting firm, Global Integration share their experiences since embarking on a journey of training and development as part of the £110m Sharing in Growth programme.

Recognising the barriers to SME growth, the £110m Sharing in Growth programme supports the UK aerospace manufacturing sector, with £50M of funding through the Regional Growth Fund. Through a network of approved partners, the programme provides access to strategic training and development. One approved partner is specialist leadership training provider, Global Integration.

The right soil

The UK aerospace sector is the European leader and global number two. Its capabilities in the manufacture of some of the most sophisticated and high-value parts of modern aircraft has created a high-tech and high-skill industry of 3,000 companies and 230,000 employees in the UK. Many of these companies are SMEs, which often find managing rapid growth as problematic. To grow, these companies need to invest in training, develop lean strategies to compete with increasing competition and create an organisational environment which embraces growth.

Andy Page, CEO for Sharing in Growth commented:

The UK has 17% of the market share in aerospace, but manufacturers need to grow and retain this position. Two thirds of aerospace suppliers are not investing enough in technology and need to improve their supply chain management, finance and business planning. Although the quality of production is excellent, too many companies are not meeting delivery times, mostly due to lack of skills and capability within their organisation.

Planting the seeds

AGC AeroComposites is a recent beneficiary of the Sharing in Growth programme. The firm has three UK sites which provide advanced composites and metal components for the aerospace, defence and
power industries.

The company was approached by Rolls-Royce about Sharing in Growth. Recognising the benefits of joining, AGC AeroComposites went through a due diligence process to be accepted onto the programme. This process ensures manufacturers have the capability and capacity for growth and evaluates areas where training and development would help the organisation to grow.

However the company needed additional support for corporate integration and team working. Much of this type of training is beyond the pockets of SMEs, but Sharing in Growth helps make it accessible. Global Integration worked closely with the company’s leadership team to evaluate their internal communication and develop more efficient working practices.

The course included six days of leadership training covering five key areas: communication; conflict; control; community; and co-operation. Each area was tailored to AGC AeroComposites and the issues it faced day-to-day as the company grew.

The training is tools-based experiential learning, providing leaders with practical tools immediately applicable to its situation. The leadership team gets several opportunities throughout the modules to practice and receive feedback on their communication abilities through peer reviews.

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Phil Stockbridge, director at Global Integration, comments:

The training brings the organisation’s leaders together in a forum where they can all work and participate together.

New shoots

Leaders will receive follow up training, scheduled 12 weeks after the initial session, to see how the techniques have been used and to reinforce the skills and knowledge learned. Key performance indicators have been set to measure progress on a quarterly basis which includes a health-check survey for employee satisfaction that can be compared to other, similar organisations.

Steve Smith, president, AGC AeroComposites EMEA, is a strong advocate for the Sharing in Growth programme and the overall benefits it brings to the organisation.

In larger organisations it can take a few years to see the benefits of this type of training and development, yet in SMEs it can bring instant improvement and rapid change. We have already become more focused, more efficient and more competitive as a result. Sharing in Growth has pulled together a programme of the best partners in the industry, which we probably would never have access to, or if we had, it would have been a much slower and far more expensive process.

The demands of supply

TM’s Victoria Fitzgerald caught up with Andy Page, CEO for Sharing in Growth and Steve Smith, president at AGC AeroComposites EMEA to discuss how crucial the scheme is for SMEs supplying the flourishing aerospace industry.

The aerospace industry is expected to double in size in the next decade, with a forecast for 27,000 new passenger aircraft and 40,000 commercial helicopters by 2030. For SMEs to sustain growth and meet demand they need comprehensive support.

Sharing in Growth aims at raising the capability of UK aerospace suppliers by providing funding for training and development, advising on exports and growing the number of jobs in the
aerospace industry.

Speaking with TM, Andy Page, CEO for Sharing in Growth said one of the biggest obstacles facing the sector at the moment was a large gap between the aerospace primes in the UK and the tier
one suppliers.

They are often SMEs that have plateaued at roughly 150 employees with a turnover of £10-15m. They struggle to grow to mid-cap and find it difficult to support growth beyond that. This initiative is putting investment back into UK firms and providing companies with substantial levels of best-in-class training to help them compete as a mid-cap, resulting in a meaningful change in the UK aerospace supply chain.

Steve Smith, president at aerospace supplier AGC AeroComposites EMEA alsocommented, saying the “intervention has come at a great time.”

We were rebranding and looking to implement a lean initiative with our Derby site under new management, so this is the time for a big change.

The scheme has been running at our Derby site since November 2013 and is an intensive four year programme. Our main focus so far has been on training and in depth diagnostics. We are now
just entering the stage where we are starting to drive improvement into the business using key metrics for each facility in Derby and Yeovil to measure
the improvement. This process will improve staff engagement and the true litmus test of its success will be year on year sales increases.

Source: This article first appeared as “Growing Up” The Manufacturer, July/August 2014. Issue 6, Volume 17.

Many thanks to The Manufacturer for allowing us to reproduce the article here and allowing it to be downloaded below. Find out more/subscribe to The Manufacturer here: The Manufacturer website

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