Last week I had the pleasure of attending the official opening of AE Aerospace’s new 16,500 sq ft factory at Network Park, Birmingham. It is a success story that Peter Bruch, Managing Director and Co-Owner, and his team have worked hard to achieve and rightfully deserves recognition.
I was most impressed with the factory, the machine tools and most importantly, the people. They have a wonderful culture and I can see why they have been so successful in growing the business and their team.
Growth and Ambition at AE Aerospace
The company has enjoyed incredible growth; over the past five years the business has more than doubled productivity with sales increasing seven-fold - exploiting growing customer demand for its components in a buoyant aerospace market.
The new factory is a key component of their ambitious expansion programme that will give them four times the capacity of their previous Dymoke Street premises and will create 20 additional jobs. During the factory tour, we were shown four new Mazak 5-axis machines that will significantly reduce lead times for AE’s customers and giving them a much-needed 50% increase in capacity, to help satisfy contract wins, including more work with Boeing and Airbus. The company plans to double its turnover by the end of 2020.
Secret to Success
AE Aerospace is the perfect example of a business embracing innovation; the committed, uncompromising approach to improving productivity and driving efficiency is outstanding.
I was also really interested in the story of how they have arrived at this point. Having visited the new factory, spoken to many of their team members and recently read Peter Bruch’s blog, I have been inspired and it has indeed made me reflect on my own business. I’ve picked out some key insights and takeaways from his blog that particularly struck home with me:
- Holistic approach - By analysing the whole business and not working in silos, the business can gain an overall vision and be most effective at improving the overall productivity.
“From scrutinising internal processes to seeking support from experienced advisors, we must continue to take a holistic approach to business improvement if AE Aerospace is to fulfil its potential.”
- Resist quick fix – We are all busy people and it can be tempting to find a quick fix to a problem and move on, rather than finding and addressing the root cause. In order to achieve sustainable improvements, we have to take the time to get underneath the problem:
“We have looked beneath the surface and broken down the barriers of our operation. Our priority has been to resist quick fixes, which is not always easy to achieve when you have myriad demands placed on the business.”
- Self-critique – It can be difficult, but it is important to be honest in assessing your existing practises to find the best route forward.
“You must get back to basics. As a leadership team, we’ve focused on gaining insight into every nook and cranny of the business so that we can determine whether our processes and systems are fit for purpose.”
- Customer is (still) king – Throughout the development AE Aerospace’s capabilities, services and solutions, customers have been kept at the heart of key business decisions – adopting a servitization model is testament to this:
“Our work with the Advanced Services Group at Aston Business School has allowed us to embrace transparent production and move to a model of servitization. Aston has helped us develop a glass factory where customers will eventually be able to utilise machining time by the hour.”
- Collaboration – It’s so important to work together, learn from others, speak to your supply chain, share knowledge and best practice:
“Our growth mindset has led us to seek mentoring support from leading industry figures… BAE shared best practice around Hoshin Kanri, otherwise known as policy deployment.”
- Put the work in and embrace change – It takes drive and hard work to tear down existing norms and barriers. I admire how AE Aerospace have been tenacious in their approach to improve, encompassing everyone in the company to reach their goals.
“Our success is the result of a lot of hard work. From machine operatives to senior directors, everyone has played their part in repositioning the business, driving efficiencies, boosting productivity and embracing innovation… An effective manufacturing business understands that it is driven from the bottom up and the top down."
- Right skills for the job – I truly believe that with the right people and skills, things happen – as does AE Aerospace.
“We value our staff as our greatest asset”
Congratulations AE Aerospace – I wish you every success in your new premises and ambitious expansion!