How a global business turned tragedy into a catalyst for change
This case study shows how a situation as difficult as the death of a colleague can be a catalyst for positive change.
Import Export Support (IES) have been working with Johnson Controls in Great Yarmouth for a couple of years and I hope other Norfolk businesses will find their story useful.
Johnson Controls are a global leader in automated control systems and their Great Yarmouth facility designs and builds fire suppression systems. This means managing imports of components and chemicals from the EU, US and China and exporting systems around the globe.
1. What was the issue?
For many years, all the firm's imports and exports at Great Yarmouth were the sole responsibility of one employee. However in 2016 his untimely passing at a young age not only had a devastating impact on his fellow colleagues but created a huge problem for the business, as no-one else knew his systems
2. What's the solution?
IES were recommended to step in to fill the gap left by this tragedy, and our first job was to keep the company’s imports and exports moving.
Next, IES MD Tracey Renshaw set about identifying ways to improve processes and strategy. With the appointment of John Huxtable as Manufacturing Operations Director in 2017 things began to change. John says “I could see straight away that if the company didn’t make changes, the financial impact could be very great”.
Working with Tracey, the company have drawn up a long-term plan which includes new staff responsibilities and applying for customs authorisations including Inward Processing, Customs Warehouse, Customs Freight Simplified Procedures (CFSP) and Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status.
Tracey recommended appointing a Customs Controller to be the link between HMRC, management, internal departments and external companies. Reporting in to the Controller are the teams from purchasing, warehousing, engineering, shipping and sales who now have fully documented supply chain processes. John says “We needed a customs structure in place, not just one person”
John and Tracey have also worked on plans for Brexit. Britain’s place in world trade is still unknown, but as John says “We’re well ahead of many other companies - we’ve got Tracey to thank for that”.
3. Did it work?
New processes to accurately classify products can potentially save a business hundreds of thousands of pounds and the opportunity to cut costs has been seized. John Huxtable says there are “Significant improvements in efficiency for the business. Tracey has done a really good job in this respect”.
The risk associated with having one person running all Johnson Controls imports and exports has been mitigated. The company now has documented processes and the structure is embedded into the daily business activities, bringing clarity to the supply chain, streamlining processes, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
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