Feedback from our clients.

Caledonian Plywood -Testimonial.

    • Productivity improvement = 21% increase across 10 months of projects.
    • Profitability on new orders made possible through the efficiency or capacity/throughput gains = £184,000

        “Previously, Caledonian Plywood adopted a very reactive approach to manufacturing.  This Project changed the mindsets of our Manufacturing Managers. Although their desire to “improve things” was never in doubt, they lacked the tools and direction to channel this into focused strategic improvement. The workshops created an understanding of the potential utopia we could aim at and, crucially, a series of metrics that we can use to measure our progress towards that goal.”Murray Falconer, MD.

Increased footfall and overall sales – The Frame House Testimonial.

We have been working with Kaye Collins of Improvement Architecture for several months now and she has been invaluable to our company, The Frame House. The marketing and social media strategies she has given us have been meticulously and intelligently thought out, easy to implement and have increased both our footfall and overall sales. She is incredibly easy to work with, she’s adaptable, friendly and would be an asset to any company. If you’re wondering whether or not to work with her, don’t, just go for it!


Eileen Ryan,
Managing Director
The Frame House Ltd.

Petronieos Case Study for Oil and Gas

The Company


Petroineos based in Grangemouth and Finnart is the home to Scotland’s only oil crude refinery, and supplies refined products to Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North of England. Key product outputs are Diesel and Petrol, although there are a number of other by-products manufactured. The company employs circa 600 people and also has a large contractor presence on site at Grangemouth. Contractors are brought to the site to perform defined & contracted maintenance activity. The business subcontracts a large proportion of both core & non-maintenance activity and therefore the sub-contractors form an important and integral part of the supply chain and maintenance activity. In many cases maintenance performance and therefore reliability is critically dependent on the management of suppliers and their subsequent performance


The Challenge


The challenge facing the business is that its performance (OEE) Overall Equipment Effectiveness, one of the key measurements is in the lower quartile compared to the benchmarked competition (internal & external), and creates an unwanted risk to the future of the site. It is imperative that there is a demonstrable improvement in performance in the short to medium term. In turn, this has the opportunity to create a platform for major investment at Petroineos, which will be game-changing for the site.

The business has an objective to have 30% of employees engaged in some form of Continuous Improvement (CI) by the end of 2018, which will contribute towards an improvement in OEE.  As part of the review, a number of exercises were conducted with a small team of employees, which were largely designed to understand the current level of engagement within the organisation, as well as to determine the level of readiness for change.

Derived from the exercises and discussions it was evident that people take pride in their work, care about the facility, and have a strong desire to make improvements. However, there is also a high level of frustration at work which gets in the way of them producing optimum performance. Some of the contributors towards their frustration include a lack of effective business systems, ever-changing priorities (can be a feature of a refinery), no clear performance management framework, and variable skill levels/experience of staff. There is also an absence of visual management throughout the site, which will most likely impact performance.

  ABB consulting had previously been engaged to try and measure employee engagement,  motivation and frustrations. The SMAS findings were similar to this study.

SMAS’s hosts were the Reliability Group…..a team of Engineers dedicated to improving overall reliability ( OEE) by both direct Engineering and by Continuous Process improvement such that improved Maintenance  Efficiency would help deliver better overall availability

 How SMAS Helped


  • Delivered a LSS Yellowbelt training course to 4 multi-disciplined teams of volunteers from ‘ Area 1”. 
  • Coached and mentored teams through application of the DMAIC model applied to 4 problems from Area 1 which were highlighted during the Yellowbelt training and during ABB survey. 
  • Coached and Mentored each team to present to the Leadership team and to demonstrate the value of their projects to the business 
  • With the teams and a professional filmmaker created a “ motivational “ movie to be shown at “Reliability Off-site” events ( attended by the majority of Petroineos Employees plus key suppliers) 
  • Worked with management to create the off-site Reliability events agendas and to embed mini group DMAIC activity into each event 
  • Worked with Management to preselect Reliability day problems to be worked on by groups. Used problem structuring to improve the efficiency. 
  • Designed and delivered facilitator training for the reliability days 
  • Delivered problem-solving workshops at 6 off-site Reliability days involving almost all Petroineos Employees 
  • Assessed all 4 major improvement projects and assisted in follow up of ~ 90 workplace group projects  What was the impact for the Company? 
  • 4 major LSS Yellowbelt projects delivered with savings
  • 16  people awarded LSS YB’S
  • A major motivational video created on the DMAIC projects
  • ~ 90 mini projects kicked off at 5 Reliability days involving nearly all Petroineos employees…thus exceeding company objectives on engagement ( > 30%)  
    Company Quotes 

    “ Yellowbelt was an enjoyable experience and an opportunity to experience different techniques and develop new skills. The x – functional team allowed me to appreciate other people and departments viewpoints “ …Jack Collins Workshop Mechanical Technician


    “ Good to see how the DMAIC process can be used to solve problems ‘….Robin Herron I & E Technician Area 1


    “ I learnt new problem-solving techniques which should prove very useful in the future”……Myles McKenzie Reliability Team Engineer


    “ We got really good engagement during the project which emphasised the need and importance of getting the correct members into an improvement team”……John Stinton Reliability Team Engineer


     Ring-fencing our time to complete projects was very important. Using the DMAIC method also demonstrated the importance of thorough measurement and analysis of data as a means of successful project completion “…..Jamie Isaacs Reliability Team Engineer


    “ It was good to get time away from the day to day pressures in order to assess an issue and to improve it “……Brian Wilson Area Manager

34% Reduction in Manufacturing Costs– Mainetti Ltd. 

The Company 


The Mainetti Group is the largest manufacturer and supplier of hangers in the world. Mainetti was established in 1961 in Italy and now operates in over 40 different countries, employing over 4,000 people worldwide. 

Mainetti lists a number of blue-chip high-street customers, however, has been seen to have slowed down due to the economic recession by approx 20%.  Even with this, the local management team are committed to continuing a restructuring operation to enable Mainetti in the UK to continue to compete in a global market.  

To complement these growth plans, the company has a strong vision for lean manufacturing to become a way of life, even given the traditional culture on which it is based. The company has shown great commitment to continuous improvement, lean and culture change no matter how challenging.   


The Challenge 

 The challenge of conducting business in the middle of economic recession highlighted the need to change the business.  It was soon apparent that the organisation needed to focus on key business wins, rather than a traditional lean implementation programme. The culture of the organisation and previous attempts at lean implementation had left some degree of resistance and a general nervousness of what this programme would mean to the organisation.  This uncertainty was shared at all levels throughout Manetti. 

The decision was therefore taken to look for external support in order to look at reducing internal costs in terms of materials, Labour & space utilisation, that’s where Improvement Architecture Ltd came into assist.   


What We Did  


  • Structured an ongoing programme through completing an “X” chart of potential projects.


  • Focused the initial learning at the operatives themselves around the tools and skills required for the specific lean implementation project required, whilst still enabling staff to gain an overall appreciation for the overall philosophies and additional tools available. 


  • Used a variety of real-life issues that arose to solidify the grounding for lean, and support for the overall culture of lean. 


  • Covered broader issues around facilitation and change management which arose during the discussions. 



Improvement Architecture Ltd 

  • A strong partnership was developed between  Improvement Architecture Ltd and Mainetti management which has helped to improve the business through continuous improvement and culture change. 
  •  Improvement Architecture Ltd offered the skills and experience in lean tools/techniques needed to help progress Mainetti down the Lean Journey. 
  •  Improvement Architecture Ltd has provided external structure and project management support to control improvements being made whilst not becoming a barrier for management internally. 


Lessons learned 


Although the lean training has successfully gained improvements in the short-term, it is critical that further standardisation of people, systems and processes is required to ensure ongoing sustainability. 


There is a skills gap at Team Leader level which can act as a barrier between operatives and management.  Further development of this area is required in order that Kaizen programmes may be created successfully. 


The proactiveness shown within the shop-floor areas needs to be further developed with programmes including Engineers and more technical staff across the organisation.  These will be critical to long-term continuous improvement culture and reduction in quality issues. 




What was the impact for the Company? 


In addition to the benefits from the 3 key projects identified below the training has encouraged and enabled the participants to review and use the data already collected in the factory with more confidence.  


High Raw material prices.  An 84% reduction in material cost has been achieved through the use of regrind material, rather than 100% virgin material. 


High Labour Cost.  A 29% reduction in labour cost was achieved through the reduction of operatives from 6 per shift to 4 per shift.  A total reduction of 6 operators per day. 


Overall Machine Cost.  It was determined that an opportunity existed to reduce the overall cost of manufacture by using the 4-cavity tool rather than the 12-cavity where possible.  This resulted in £1.057 saving per 100 parts (or 34% reduction in manufacturing cost).  Further to this, a machine which was used within the original area “just in case” was sold for a saving of £21,000 per year for the rental period, and generated a one-off £40k for bottom-line. 


Further improvement projects are being identified on an ongoing basis due to the change within the cell culture giving increased sustainability to this area. 


There are also further programmes being ongoing for additional cell improvements to link to an overall culture change within the business. 




After having struggled previously with the implementation of lean, SMAS through their deliverer Improvement Architecture Ltd was extremely successful in delivering our needs and structuring the programme to fit our culture.  This project has given significant business benefit.  Good job everyone.” 


Keith Charlton 

MD – Mainetti (North Europe)   


Nicky Gordon, Continuous Improvement Black Belt

Lean Strategy -Gates Power Transmissions Case Study

My name is Nicky Gordon and I am a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with eight years of business improvement experience across the manufacturing and financial sectors.  I am currently employed as the Continuous Improvement Coordinator for Gates Power Transmissions at our facility in south-west Scotland. 

Albeit Gates Dumfries have lived and breathed continuous improvement for over a decade, the sustainability of a number of the key tools and techniques have faded due to a skills shortage, with trained staff gaining promotion from the Gemba or departing the business.

Secondly, the majority of the available quick wins and low hanging fruit had been exhausted therefore we required personnel trained to be able to deep dive, identifying further improvement opportunities and completing them correctly.

Finally, I decided sigma would be a good capability to install on site as we’d be required to focus on variation reduction for future proofing.

My key request was that the training be delivered on site and at a pace set by myself to tie in with site demands.  By taken this course of action it allowed the candidates to be in familiar surroundings where they could visit the impacted area during sessions should the need arise.

Secondly, I didn’t want the training completed in one block as I felt the knowledge would be lost.  By requesting that the green belt programme be delivered in one day sessions on a bi-weekly basis, meant the candidates could put into practice what they learnt in a step by step approach.

From a provider perspective, I required the company to be aligned to ISO training standards, instructors to have experience within the manufacturing sector and the training material to be developed in line with Gates standards.

IA offered training material developed to match my requirements, even to the extent of using company templates.  On top of the basic material were numerous tool guides, linkages to e-papers and practical’s.  Away from the sessions, the IA instructor was always available for support with prompt replies.

The 4 projects aligned to certification have delivered in excess of $100,000 with secondary phases identified to double the benefit.  The candidates who are now green belt certified are putting their knowledge into practice and are aligned to projects in 2017 scoped at delivering approximately $250,000.  We also have them training others in soft skills like project management and 5s.

From commencement to completion IA ensured all our requirements were adhered to offering a high level of professionalism and support along the way.  The level of experience shone through during the training sessions and the fact they offer certification via a well-established body made the decision to partner with them easy.

With the site potentially looking at a yellow belt programme and leadership training in the close future, I will be again looking to link in with IA to deliver a successful and sustainable solution.

Nicky Gordon, Continous Improvement Coordinator, Gates Power Transmissions


The Key -Leadership Coaching

Graham has been an amazing coach and mentor. Graham’s honest, refreshing and liberating approach has helped me to understand not only how I can become a better social leader, but a better person, providing me with his knowledge, expertise, and tools to help me to think outside the box when approaching both professional and personal problems. I would highly recommend working with him!
Victoria Dunn Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) The Key

The Anne Frank Trust UK – Leadership Coaching

I’ve found Graham’s coaching extremely beneficial, both for my professional and personal development. I feel that the work we did together, especially looking at the Gallup Strengths Finder really helped me when applying for, interviewing for and getting an internal promotion. It has also been a real help to have his coaching and support as I have taken on new responsibilities at work. I’m so glad that I saw this opportunity and applied for it, and would highly recommend it to other charity professionals.

Grace Dunne, North East Regional Manager, The Anne Frank Trust UK.

YMCA North Tyneside

What I like most about working with IA is that Graham’s life experiences across a range of industries is hugely valuable and immensely useful. There is a definite sense that we are developing something together. It feels very much like a process of co-creation, not instruction.

Dean Titterton, Chief Executive Officer, YMCA North Tyneside

Roundel Manufacturing -Projected 17% growth for next year.

“The personal support from MGP advisers made us take the time out of our business to consider the future, then create a plan to deal with it. Their advice was so worthwhile. We now expect to continue our growth (17% projected for the next year) with development into new product sales.”

Roundel Manufacturing Sales & Commercial Director Jim Bebbington.

Henry Colbeck Ltd

“Without the help and positive support of BE Group, Improvement Architecture and everyone involved in the Manufacturing Growth Programme we would still be struggling to try to understand a very complex process.”

Bill Colbeck, Chairman at Henry Colbeck Limited