LAMBSON BUILDING PRODUCTS – A FUTURE-PROOFED BUSINESS
As Lambson Building Products celebrates its 50-year anniversary, they are already looking to the next 50 years.
Lambson Building Products was founded 50 years ago, in 1969, as a manufacturer of coated plywood panels for the construction industry. Its journey from those humble beginnings has been a long and eventful one, one that has seen them find a niche for themselves in the caravan and leisure industry.
“Our bread and butter has always been the holiday home market, that’s where the majority of our effort will always be focused,” says Glenn Monkman, Managing Director of the company. “We’ve branched out into other areas, marine and leisure craft, accommodation refurbishments, furniture production and we’ve had great success with those ventures but the core of our business has
never really changed.”
Across every sector the company is active in, they are supported by one key resource, enthusiastic staff with an extensive manufacturing knowledge-base. “Our staff are our greatest asset, we have a wealth of knowledge under this roof. There isn’t a problem our customers can throw at us that someone here can’t find a solution for,” Glenn says. “There are decades of experience, from a variety of manufacturing backgrounds, on the factory floor and I believe that gives us an edge over our competitors. Many of our staff have been with us for years. We’re a company that greatly appreciates and rewards loyalty and commitment.”
That staff works according to a clearly laid out business philosophy. “Our philosophy is a simple one – to provide customers with quality products, on time, at a competitive price, ensuring all requirements are met,” Glenn continued. “I say simple but believe me, it takes a lot of hard work and effort to make that statement a reality. Even for a company who has been in this game as long as we have. The core of our business has always been providing the caravan industry with decorative wall and ceiling boards, mouldings and furniture components. Over time, however, as our expertise and skill has grown, we have been able to expand and diversify our manufacturing capabilities.”
We’re not here to talk about Lambson’s past, however. We’re here to talk about their future, and Lambson is a company with big plans.
“Our current aim is to capture a greater share of the internal door market within the holiday home and park home sector,” Glenn tells us. “We will be installing a dedicated door production line early next year which will quadruple our current production capacity.”
Indeed, the company has been undergoing a number of key investments to ensure their growth, both organically and through acquisitions. Since the turn of the century, Lambson has made a number of significant investments to develop the business. Firstly with the purchase of Castleford based profile manufacturer Laminated Products in 2005, which was followed by a series of strategic investments at their production facility, enabling the company to raise productivity levels and improve efficiency.
“We installed brand new schelling saws, CNC centres, then a door press and composite line and more recently two new Weinig Powermat moulders,” Glenn says. “Those machines were an excellent addition, they’re capable of processing 36 metres of material per minute and completely CNC controlled, they can produce practically any profile a customer can dream of. Our old moulders were practically running 24 hours a day to satisfy customers’ requirements. It just wasn’t sustainable, so the investment was a no-brainer and the new machinery has improved overall manufacturing efficiency by over 30%.”
The lesson from this investment, Glenn points out, is that it is worth spending the extra money upfront for the longevity you can get from quality equipment.
“The Weinigs weren’t the cheapest but they are an investment that will be with us for decades,” Glenn says. “All of our new equipment will enable us to grow our customer base, improve the service we offer and, most importantly, increase our turnover. We’ve also recently installed a Spanish-made highspeed wrapping machine which can process 50 linear metres of material every minute and can handle any profile shape, up to 300mm wide, with minimal set-up times. And a new, Italian-made, sizing and edge banding machine is currently being installed, which will increase production and reducing waste even further. The overall aim is to improve efficiency, reduce costs and help future-proof our site.”
Future-proofing is the appropriate word, as Glenn tells us Lambson has been looking into seriously updating their technology.
“Production currently runs on a quite old-fashioned system of printing out batch sheets and production tickets that are then passed to the factory floor,” he admits. “It’s not as efficient as we’d like and also requires a huge amount of paper, which adds to costs, also printing and then recording the data takes time, you have issues with misplaced sheets as well and the process isn’t very environmentally friendly. Our plan is to introduce a barcode system that would streamline the process and massively reduce the paper we use and also eliminate the need for manual data entry.
Each machine would have a computer terminal and staff would have access to tablets, so orders could be tracked stage by stage and data recorded in real-time. All this improves our ability to track
production efficiency, monitory stock levels and keep customers informed of order progression.”
WORKING SMARTER, NOT HARDER
Lambson isn’t just looking at updating their equipment and technology, however. They also want to find new efficiencies in the way that they work.
“We introduced LEAN manufacturing techniques into our production process when we moved to our Castleford site,” Glenn says. “Though we review our techniques regularly to make sure they’re still relevant to current needs. We understand JIT, Kaizen, Six Sigma etc. aren’t generic tools that suit every process or environment and you have to make decisions based on your specific production, storage or data collection needs.”
The business has also been improving its certification and has recently been ISO 9001:2015 accredited. This was possible thanks to Lambson’s longstanding commitment to customer satisfaction and their application of the highest possible standards throughout the production process and their meticulous record keeping.
Glenn points out, “Adhering to the new ISO guidelines helps ensure our wider operations and processes are all as effective and efficient as they can be, which in turn is helping us to ‘future proof’