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How BSI training and advice helped award winning company HK Wentworth transition early to the new standard for the automotive industry, IATF 16949

Posted on 17 January 2018 by Electrolube
Tags: Electrolube, Lab-Testing

“BSI offered outstanding advice on areas where we needed to do a little bit more to meet the new requirements”

Ron Jakeman,Managing Director, HK Wentworth

The business in brief

Founded some 75 years ago, Leicestershire-based electrochemicals company HK Wentworth is a global manufacturer supplying the aerospace, automotive, LED lighting, and IT and office equipment sectors. A medium-sized business, it won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in 2016. It has worked with BSI since the 1990s and is committed to customer service and continuous improvement.

  • Helps a company ‘navigate’ complex rules
  • Proves a company has achieved the highest standards possible
  • Increases job satisfaction
  • Helps a company transition to new standards
  • Associates a company with a world-renowned brand

Company background

HK Wentworth, a BSI client for 25 years, has its origins in war-time Britain, when entrepreneur and inventor Henry Kingsbury founded Kingsbury Components, a maker of on/off volume controls. The company has grown dramatically since then - both organically and by acquisition — and is today a global manufacturer, with premises in Bangalore, India and Suzhou, China, as well as a 62,000 sq ft, state-of-the-art site 'at home' in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire.

A supplier to companies in the aerospace, automotive, lighting, industrial manufacturing and IT and office equipment sectors, HK Wentworth (HKW), is the owner of the subsidiaries Electrolube and AF International, and has a diverse portfolio of products. Two thirds of its sales come from overseas, and it employs 212 people, 79 of them outside the UK..

A tradition of innovation

Despite its growth, the company retains, in some ways, the qualities of a small business and prides itself on an ability to work closely with its customers and put them first. "We have a strong network of subsidiaries and distribution partners, and we're able to offer companies scalability and a reliable and secure supply chain," says Ron Jakeman, managing director. "We're not just about volume, though. We are committed to research and development, and to value. Our mission is to 'exceed our customers' expectations with innovative new products and the highest possible levels of customer service'."

HKW has, Mr Jakeman says, remained true to its heritage and to making products that really add value for the customer. "Our founder invented a special oil for lubricating electrical contacts or moving surfaces and prolonging the life of products, and we've continued that kind of thinking … We have, you could say, a tradition of innovation."

A progressive business that works with the children’s charity Barnardo's and supports the National Forest project to create 'carbon sinks' by planting shrubs and trees, the company is continually developing environmentally friendly products and is certified to ISO 14001, the international standard for environmental management systems, by BSI. It also holds a BSI certificate for the occupational health and safety standard, OHAS 18001.

IATF 16949

For a company like HKW, early adoption of the new quality management standard for suppliers in the automotive industry, IATF 16949, which replaced ISO/TS 16949 in October 2016, was a natural move.

"Companies have until September 2018 to make the transition to the new standard," Mr Jakeman explains, "but we wanted to demonstrate our commitment to our customers in the automotive industry by doing it immediately."

IATF 16949, developed by the International Automotive Task Force, harmonises different assessment and certification systems in the global automotive industry. It consolidates the rules and so, ultimately, makes life easier for suppliers. Early adoption is tough, though. "Getting the certification early posed a lot of challenges for us, not least because the requirements were very new to everyone involved," Mr Jakeman explains.

Working with BSI

BSI helped ease the transition by clarifying the new rules and removing uncertainty. It also provided 'gap analysis' and review.

"Working with BSI's auditor at the first-stage assessment, we identified key areas that required attention in order to meet the requirements of the standard," Mr Jakeman recalls. "Then, in the period up to secondstage assessment, BSI offered outstanding advice on areas where we needed to do more," he says

BSI also helped in another way: by providing specialist training. HKW's project leader, Matthew Kelsall, attended the automotive quality management systems transition course run by the BSI Training Academy.

Tutored by Paul Hardiman, a world expert on automotive quality management systems, the course made a significant difference to the company. “In a word, it was amazing,” says Mr Kelsall. “Paul Hardiman shone a clear light of interpretation on the new rules and provided a solid base for us to work from.”

Mr Kelsall adds that the ongoing support provided by BSI post-training also proved ‘invaluable’.

The future

The company has no doubt its partnership with BSI will continue. It is hoping to achieve BSI certification to AS/EN 9100, the single quality management standard for the aerospace industry, by May 2018, and to ISO 27001, the international standard for information security management, the following month.

“We view BSI certification as a great advantage to our business and are delighted to be associated with the organisation and what it represents. BSI are recognised worldwide as the best at what they do,” Mr Jakeman says.

Working with BSI has benefits both inside and outside a business: it’s both a marketing and a motivational tool. “Certification from them speaks volumes about our processes: it proves we’re able to achieve some incredibly high standards. It’s quality assurance for our customers and it’s good for our own sense of job satisfaction,” Mr Jakeman adds

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