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Century Fires Ltd (C20 Fires) is a fireplace manufacturing company. It was
established 15 years ago as an extension of work of removing fireplaces and
fitting replacement gas fires by its managing director Tim. Now, C20 fires
provides fireplaces of many styles which includes 1920s Art Deco fireplaces to
Victorian/ Edwardian fireplace designs. C20 fires also lets its customer to
design their own fireplace.

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Some of the
products and services that C20 fires manufactures and delivers are as follows:

Complete Tiled Fireplaces,
Fireplace Hearths, Handmade Fireplace Inserts, Fireplace Tiles, Handmade
Mantels, Reclaim and restore Original Fireplaces from twentieth century,
Reclaimed Fireplace Inserts, Reclaimed and restored fireplace mantels from the
Edwardian era, Supply and installation of Baxi Burnall System, Fire backs and
bricks of various sizes, Marble Fireplaces, Solid Fuel Fires, Gas Fires,
Electric Fires, Fireplace Accessories, Coal Bunkers, Renewable and recycled fuels,
Fireplace safety devices, chimney balloons etc.

Century Fires Ltd is one of the only few companies in the UK that refurbish
original fireplaces and surround. Its office is located at Stockport,
Lancashire. With large numbers of housings nearby and quick access to M60
motorway which encloses the city of Manchester, C20 fires has location
advantage. Here, customers and supplies can easily locate the factory.

With 15 years of
experience in the field, Tim describes that they had made a good link with the
suppliers who design metal products and also gets wooden products made to
order. Company also emphasizes on direct sales rather than going through middle
layer of people like retailers. Because according on Tim’s interview, he says
that, retailers tend to sell what they have in the shop rather than something
that customers want. Tim further elaborates that when company takes orders
according to client’s demand and design, customers values the product more and
can wait for the completion of product manufacturing, hence it gives company
more time to complete the job. In this way, they can satisfy the customer’s
demand as well as complete the job as easily as possible. From a marketing
point of view, previously, their product was marketed through a word of mouth
but now C20 fire is operating six different websites where two main websites
are used to sell Victorian cast iron fireplaces only.

According to
Company’s P&L Account, we can observe that C20 Fires is earning a fair
amount of profit from its sales. However, company is still encountering many
difficulties in the manufacturing process, goods handling and storage process
and product delivery process.

In this report,
we will review the production process adopted by Twentieth Century Fires Ltd.
And critically analyze how LEAN production system has or can be applied in
different stages of the production.




LEAN Manufacturing or LEAN
Production System:


From early 1800’s
with the start of industrial age, manufacturers have been thinking about
various logistics system to make their manufacturing processes more economical
and efficient. In due time different manufacturers developed their own
individual techniques to identify what happens in-between processes, how multiple
processes can be arranged and how the chain of processes function as a system.
Those developed techniques were standardized and practiced throughout the

Most of the
large manufacturers developed their own ideas for economic and efficient
production system where they are more focused on controlling wastes. Toyota
Production System or Just In Time (JIT) Production is a wastes reduction system
adopted by Toyota Motor Company.

LEAN thinking is
a philosophy prioritizing the value stream of all tasks by eliminating
unnecessary work (non- value adding jobs), align all involved processes and
steps in a continuous flow, focus on cross functional team and continuous improvement.
(Hines et al. 1998)

“The value
Stream is those set of tasks and activities required to design and make a
family of products or services that are undertaken with a group of linked
functions or companies from the point of customer specification right back to
the raw material source.” (Hines et al, 2000, p5)

Adopting Lean can radically
change the business. Lean management system is basically based on four
principles. They are

1) Pull: Rather than producing as
much as possible, customer’s demands pulls the goods and services through the
manufacturing process. This minimizes over production, inventory and ultimately
working capital.

2) One-piece flow: It focuses on
one single piece at a time which minimizes work in progress, process and
eruptions, lead and waiting time. It increases quality and flexibility.

3) Tact: It’s a heartbeat of LEAN
system. It’s how fast you need to manufacture a product and meet customer’s
demand. Tact allows us to balance work content, achieve a continuous flow and
respond flexibly to the changes in the market place.

 4) Zero Defect: Mistakes happen but a LEAN
company doesn’t pass on defects. Mistakes from previous steps must be fixed
before going on combined with the robust continuous improvement process.


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