Industrial engineering composites manufacturer Attwater has been undertaking customer satisfaction surveys since 1999 and year after year the results have shown that one of the company’s stand-out features is the quality of its products. These results are backed up by its numerous customer approvals and quality management system accreditation. Attwater’s historical approach to its quality management system started in the 1960s, with the company subsequently adopting MOD AQAP4, BS5750, ISO9002:1994, ISO9001:2008 in turn along with its current accreditation AS9100 Revision C aerospace system standard.
Quality director Dave Swarbrick explained: “We take quality very seriously at Attwater. We are audited regularly which enables us to give our customers confidence in our products and us.”
Quality, however, isn’t a badge of honour that comes easily. It takes dedication from the earliest stages right through to delivery and beyond. Raw materials are certified by suppliers but tested routinely when they reach Attwater’s factory doors. Every step of the production process is monitored by the operators; we don’t inspect quality at the end but throughout the process. Frank Boyle is vital to us managing our quality system, having worked on the shop floor for over 20 years before switching to quality control five years ago. “I’ve worked on all the processes myself, so I have the experience to help us continually look at improvement,” he says. “But it’s not just the everyday testing, checking and inspection that makes up a quality department. We’re looking at supplier management, reliability, delivery on time. It’s about relationships.”
Dave Swarbrick says: “We’re learning all the time. We’ve got a really good quality system and personal input makes a real difference. “We’re always working on our KPIs to improve our customer satisfaction. Our current delivery on time is over 92% and is far better than the industry average and our scrap levels are only 0.17% turnover. Year-on-year we’re seeing an improvement in the quality of goods to our customers and a reduction in scrap.”Dave Swarbrick adds: “It’s a non-stop job, but one that is of paramount importance to us. We do it so that our customers can buy with confidence.”