QMT Features: September 2008
Lift off for Burcas
A supply chain development programme based on a six sigma and Lean approach leads to a £1m aerospace contract for Burcas

Photo (from left) David Scrimshire (TEC), Mike Burrows (Burcas)
Mark Wingfield (A&M EDM), Paul Randle (Tamworth Heat Treatment)
and Bob Reeve (MAS -WM)

The power of a world class supply chain is helping a West Bromwich manufacturer secure over £1m of new orders from the aerospace industry. Burcas, which celebrated its 65th birthday last year, has embarked on the Manufacturing Advisory Service – West Midlands’ (MAS-WM) ‘Lift Off’ programme to improve performance and introduce new processes across eleven of its closest suppliers, including A&M EDM, Bohler, Carbide Dies Birmingham and Tamworth Heat Treatment.

The closer working relationships have had an immediate effect on efficiency and communication, not to mention playing a crucial role in contracts for Hentons, Hampson Aerospace and Sumitomo Precision Products – the latter focusing on the production of landing gear parts for the Airbus A330.

Black Country based Burcas has a turnover of over £6m and employs around 80 people. Its work with the aerospace industry has increased since the loss of key automotive contracts in the region over the past few years, although the company has not lost touch with its roots and still produces a number of traditional products, including precision tools and paper-cutting knives.

On the shift to a niche industry, Mike Burrows, managing director, is delighted at the progress to date: “The nature of our business means that we are continually looking to target new markets and this was one of the key considerations behind our logic for taking part in the Supply Chain Development Programme.”
He continued: “Aerospace suited our ability to produce precision parts and we quickly identified a need to embrace six sigma and lean enterprise practices, in order for us to gain accreditations and be able to conform to the strict quality standards expected.

“We got talking to Bob Reeve at MAS-WM and he introduced us to the ‘Lift-Off’ project, which would provide funding towards the creation of a working group of suppliers that could learn from each other and an external consultant to become more competitive. It was an easy decision to make.”

Industry leaders, TEC Transnational, were brought in to deliver the programme and identify key goals for each individual company and how this impacted on Burcas’ performance.

A series of AS9100 approved six sigma training courses were delivered, whilst a tailored programme of activities improved supplier performance and encouraged a ‘change agent’ culture whereby representatives from each firm would absorb best practice and pass it onto their colleagues.
Mike, who is the third generation of Burrows to own the business, continued: “At the same time this was going on, we made a firm commitment to SBAC’s SC21 initiative, a specified set of criteria for supply chains in the aerospace industry.
The standard, designed to ensure competitiveness, requires conformance in three areas; accreditation, development and performance and relationships both from a customer and supplier perspective. In short, the ‘Lift Off’ programme gave us the impetus we needed to make this happen.”

Burcas' investment in the latest manufacturing technology and its supply base has seen the company boost its presence in the aerospace sector, with this particular industry making up 25% of its growing £6m turnover.

Following the deal to supply landing gear components for use in the new Airbus, the firm has also been recognised as an approved supplier to Messier Dowty, a move that could significantly increase its presence in the global marketplace.
Bob Reeve, MAS-WM Adviser, added his support: “The project has provided Burcas with a host of operational performance benefits, with possibly the most striking being a 100% success rate in quality, cost, delivery and research to the end customer.”

Importantly, the supply chain development programme has also allowed other suppliers to re-focus their activities towards the buoyant aerospace arena. For example A&M EDM and Carbide Dies have all received industry training and this has led to accreditation to the AS9100 quality standard.

MAS contacts:
Jessica Hope - MAS National Network –
E-mail: jessica.hope@gyrointernational.com
Tel: 0161 876 5522


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