Michell Instruments

SPE drives down costs with its manufacturing methodology

The issue

Michell Instruments is an international leader in manufacturing state of the art gas and humidity analysers and instruments for a vast array of industrial applications.

The business was experiencing year-on-year growth, with a move to bespoke new premises to accommodate expansion. The company had adopted Lean Engineering concepts and was looking for partners that could add value to the manufacturing process.

Shearline Precision Engineering offered a similar engineering philosophy, following Kaizen Processes and 5S methodology. It demonstrated that it was able to understand the business requirements and provide cost-efficiencies to Michell; positioning the company well for future growth.

Creating efficiencies in manufacturing process

SPE provided Michell with support for both single parts and multiple assemblies.

One of the more complex projects is sub assembly for the Condumax II, one of Michell Instrument’s flagship products. It is a self-contained hydrocarbon dewpoint analyser that combines a hydrocarbon dewpoint cell and water dewpoint measurement in a compact and lightweight enclosure.

It saves customers in the gas industry vast amounts of money in repairs and downtime, by ensuring the transmission of natural gas quality at custody transfer, preventing gas burner failure, and prolonging the life of process equipment.

The product includes a range of components made from different materials, which had previously been subcontracted to a number of partners. SPE created each component and then began to offer sub-assembly, as it became apparent that the product could be re-engineered to rationalise the production process. Skills involved included lasered ceramics, metal components and glass seal development.

Previously Michell had several different suppliers making the components, and were doing elements of the sub-assembly in-house. This meant that parts were being packaged and transported several times with very little added value at each stage.

By streamlining this process and offering combined purchasing, SPE could reduce the cost of production for the client. The success of this was partially attributed to the shared manufacturing philosophies which meant that the two companies were closely aligned.

Rapid prototyping

SPE production engineers provided Michell with rapid prototyping expertise.

During the prototyping process SPE engineers evaluate the technical drawings and tested them on their machines. Any issues in the manufacturing or the details can be spotted at once and changes proposed immediately, shortening the development times and ensuring that the designs are checked at an early stage before the process is scaled up for production.

By working closely together the two teams ensure that all the design developments are well documented. This has also rationalised the quoting process. As SPE is involved from the start it has been able to provide accurate quotes and advise the best manufacturing process.

Outcomes

SPE engineers aim to provide incremental improvements to the manufacturing process. Following the initial order SPE was able to advise on re-engineering some of the parts to make them easier to manufacture, the result was a cost saving of £47 per kit, which was well received by the client.

Shearline Precision Engineering and Michell Instruments are now looking at new areas in which they can improve manufacturing and assembly processes, and take their successful partnership forward.