A significant contract with Amazon has seen a Grantham-based manufacturer post more than £1m sales over the last twelve months.
Viking Signs, which designs and manufactures the largest range of safety signs in the UK from its factory in Lincolnshire, has signed a deal to become a direct supplier for the online retailer’s new business division, supplying up to 30,000 products for the B2B market.
The company is now looking to target a clutch of new contracts after it tapped into support from the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) to work towards the ISO 9001 quality accreditation…so important for improving efficiencies and competing for larger orders.
Supported by a Manufacturing Growth Manager and an experienced industry consultant, the firm is very near to completing the process and will shortly be undertaking the Stage 1 assessment that will then lead to full certification in a few months.
“Going for ISO 9001 has been about much more than just getting the standard, it has allowed us to fine tune existing systems and introduce new processes, flexible working patterns and eliminate waste,” explained Darren Joint, Managing Director of Viking Signs and a member of the EEF’s Regional Advisory Board.
“Working with MGP gave us the opportunity to assess exactly what support was needed and then it was a case of introducing us to a consultant, who had a deep knowledge of manufacturing businesses and what actions were needed to meet the criteria.”
He continued: “As we continue to grow we will be in a position to win larger contracts with larger organisations, many of which deem the ISO accreditation as a pre-requisite for doing business. It’s difficult to quantify how much work it will generate, but we are confident that we can increase turnover by another 10% over the next twelve months.”
Viking Signs, which employs 14 people at its Dysart Road facility, designs and manufactures a range of safety signs, corporate signs and vehicle graphics for clients across the public and private sector.
As well as enjoying sales growth in the last year, the company has also worked hard to boost productivity through the introduction of flexible working patterns that means it can operate its digital ‘on demand’ factory for more hours per week.
Further investment in state-of-the-art production equipment has also been necessary, with £100,000 spent on the acquisition of a third flatbed UV printer.
Marcus Pearson, Manufacturing Growth Manager at MGP, added his support: “The recent success with Amazon will create new opportunities and the management team at Viking were keen to seek external measures of quality to reinforce its reputation.
“We had a conversation with Darren and secured funding to help him bring in an experienced consultant to support the company on the implementation of the necessary procedures and documentation to secure the ISO 9001 accreditation. It is only a few months away and when obtained will be the next trigger in Viking’s growth.”
Darren concluded: “The MGP assistance has been outstanding from start to finish. In terms of accessing the funding and the whole process, it's been the 'least friction' support and funding process I've experienced.
“Going forward, we expect to see continued growth in Amazon as a B2B channel and will also be investing in R&D to further develop our own E-commerce channels and in data automation to streamline our digital production processes, speeding up the pace of product development in the process.”
The Manufacturing Growth Programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS), is promising to fill the void left by the Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) by providing access to specialist assistance to help manufacturers to grow and improve.
This is being achieved through an 19-strong network of experienced manufacturing growth managers, access to industry specialists and the opportunity to apply for an improvement grant.
Support can be used for improvement projects, such as leadership and management, R&D, lean manufacturing, productivity and capacity, quality systems and supply chain development.
For further information on Viking Signs please visit www.vikingsigns.co.uk or follow @vikingsigns on twitter. More details on the Manufacturing Growth Programme, please visit www.manufacturingrowthprogramme.co.uk or follow @mfggrowthp on twitter.