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'Teamwork, culture and making a difference: My journey in manufacturing’ with Sam Bates, UK Plant Manager

In celebration of National Manufacturing Day 2022, we spoke with Sam Bates, Plant Manager at our Stamford, UK facility to understand more on his experience in the world of manufacturing and what it means to be part of a market-leading operation. 

What has your career in manufacturing looked like? 

I joined NEWAGE® | STAMFORD® | AvK® straight from Sheffield Hallam University as a Global Logistics Graduate. After the two-year scheme, which also included structured training in leadership and management, I moved into an operation role at the Stamford, UK plant leading shipping & dispatch teams.  

After the inception of the Ryhall Road, Stamford plant in 2021, my responsibilities expanded to Plant Manager, a role I have held since.

Manufacturing is tangible and the outcome of my work contributes to someone, somewhere. It also covers a wide array of subjects so there are plenty of opportunities to make improvements, pursue innovation, find solutions to challenges whilst developing and adapting my own skillset along the way. Manufacturing is rarely stagnant, and this goes hand in hand with my mindset. 

What have you learnt to be essential to efficient manufacturing operations?

The skills of our workforce provide the backbone for our operation in Stamford. These skills have been driven by process training of our employees to ensure we are meeting our customer needs, but furthered by the attitude of the positive employees themselves.

We have a culture underpinned by the business’ core values, which drive our actions and decisions. All our employees take pride in their work and take relevant action to meet the needs of our customers. Our skilled workforce derives itself from the ability to work as a team and move around workstations/assignments depending on where their skills are required.

The length of service of our employees also drives innate understanding of our customer relationships, which are reflected in the quality of product we provide them but also in any specific needs they may have. The longest service at the plant currently is 44 years and counting!

What have been key drivers for the operations at your facility?

Attention to detail is driven by the training our employees receive, which centres around safety and quality.  Our commitment to delivering world-class product quality resonates through our teams and they appreciate a key factor to this is the operator involvement in our supplied parts and manufacturing processes.

Daily briefs provide us with updates on key performance indictors to ensure focus on our goals, which will ultimately lead to customer satisfaction that is expected from our STAMFORD® and AvK® alternators.

The site also runs its own warehouse and kitting operation, which aims to deliver an efficient service to the manufacturing operation with the intent of being timely and accurate with our customer orders whilst also reducing process waste and promoting good housekeeping.

We also are co-located with our facility of team of specialist engineers which support our customer base with specific testing. This gives us a unique ability to produce alternators for marine applications and offer a suite of testing to meet customer needs.

How do you involve your teams in the local community?

We focus a lot of time on working with our community partners, with recent activities including supporting infrastructure improvements at a local café which is partly staffed by young adults with Down’s syndrome, a partnership being led by several of our shop floor employees.

We ensure that every employee has the option to participate in a minimum of 4 hours voluntary work in the community every year – this has been a great way to give back and team-build. We’ve done it all; from building storage units to landscaping park band stands!

Finally, what advice would you give to those entering a career in manufacturing?

Manufacturers are always innovating and looking to adopt new technologies to support their customer’s needs. So, there will always be a requirement for skilled and qualified workers. Progression in manufacturing can take many paths, not all slope upwards and sometimes the most relevant experiences can be found through a series of stops where you gain a collection of skills and experiences.

As a business, we are committed to helping our employees reach their full potential, speaking firsthand, I can concur that this is true!

Find out more about our manufacturing locations visit www.stamford-avk.com/about/manufacturing-locations