Leading Australasian automotive accessory company, Best Bars Ltd, has introduced a series of upgrades at the state-of- the-art facility it moved into at Wiri three years ago, implementing changes designed to maintain its position as a world-class manufacturer.
The changes include improvements to the welding process, new plasma steel cutting equipment, and a more comprehensive powder coating system. These investments follow on from the installation of a new paint shop at the Best Bars site in 2014.
Stephen de Kriek, CEO of Best Bars, says the objective of the latest changes was to further raise the quality and consistency of the tow bars it produced.
“Our production systems are already world-class, but you never stop trying to make improvements that will keep you ahead of the competition and satisfy the needs of our customers,” he said.
The welding process has come in for the greatest attention at the Best Bars factory. The company now has six robotic welders and a seventh is soon to be added to automate the most repetitious tasks, thereby ensuring product consistency and freeing welding staff for more specialised roles.
Investment has also been made in a series of new manual welding machines for jobs that cannot easily be automated. This move, together with other changes in this area, has contributed to improving the working conditions for manual welders.
De Kriek said that was especially important, as the company has introduced five night shifts per week for its welding team in order to keep up with customer demand for tow bar products.
Other investments include the installation of an automated nesting system for profile cutting, which used to be a five-step manual job. The new nesting system is not only more productive from a timesaving point of view, it can also make more products from a sheet of steel, reducing wastage.
Three new, highly efficient plasma-cutting machines have been installed, too.
These are faster, more accurate and more efficient in cutting steel plate.
In the paint shop, the powder coating process has been upgraded to include a three-step pre-treatment before the undercoat and final coat, which is baked at 240°C. The upgraded paint process delivers a superior finish that will look good for years to come.
Along with the upgrading of equipment, Best Bars is also making further investments in its staff, developing leadership skills among those who wish to progress to the next level. Staff leadership courses have been introduced across each department, consisting of a 10-month business management study programme accredited to NZQA level 3.
“Those who are taking part in the course are seeing a lot of benefit from it personally, so it’s a win-win for them and for Best Bars,” said de Kriek.
The latest developments are part of a carefully planned strategy of continuous reinvestment made in recent years by Best Bars in cutting-edge technology and staff enhancement to ensure customers are provided with products that employ the latest innovations, whilst also ensuring best quality, best value and best service.