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A quick look at our Quicksets

A quick look at our Quicksets

As Torqueleader customers and distributors, many of you will be familiar with our popular Quickset screwdrivers with 1/4 inch female hex drive. We sell many hundreds of these per month to distributors and customers in, among others, the aerospace, electronics, military and consumer products industries all over the world. It's fast and accurate, has a wide torque range and uses our unique slipping technology to eliminate both under and over tightening.

In this article, we would like to take you through the manufacturing process of these screwdrivers from start to finish, so you can see how we put them together and who does every stage. We feel that the more our customers and distributors know about our production process, the better it will enable communication and efficiency as well as hopefully showing you the care and attention to detail that we put into it.

Quicksets are made in three different ways at Torqueleader. It's a popular tool, and in order that we are able to respond to orders quickly, we make a certain number to Stage 1 (semi-finished tools) where they are kept in stock for this purpose. This means they're not calibrated or labelled for a particular customer. We also make them to finished product when we know there will be a regular order, and finally we make some customer-specific versions from scratch.

First, the manufacturing process. To begin with, ten foot long bars of raw material metal are delivered to the factory, having been ordered by our purchasing manager, Antonia Greaves, and are stored in the raw materials area by Alan Jones. The workload on the machine shop is organised on a weekly basis by Joe Ellera, Production Director, who produces a work-to list which tells Alan which jobs to kit. Alan gets the works order, cuts up the metal to appropriate lengths and passes it to the relevant machine operator.  For example, for a ball housing made on a day shift on an M32 it would go to Zul Hussain or Mark Hammond, or on the night shift to Steve Greenman, and for adjusting screws made on the Traub it would go to Jack Luff.

Following this, some of the parts go out for sub-contract processing; ball housings go out for heat treatment and adjusting screws and handles for anodising. This improves the structural quality and appearance.

When these parts return they go through a quality check. Phil Bowell checks the ball housings for correct hardness and Gerald Cooper checks the anodising visually, before passing them to the parts stores. Dave Etherington puts them away in our Kardex storage system until a works order comes through and he issues the parts to make a batch of stage 1 tools. Our assembly team makes the batch up and then they are stored until needed. At this stage they are not labelled, they don't have a serial number and have not been calibrated or packed.

All order generation is handled by twice weekly MRP runs to ensure we respond as soon as practical to customer demand. So when an order comes in, it's booked on SYSPRO, Torqueleader's ERP system, to maintain the replenishment cycle, and passed to screwdriver assembly with the date by which final production has to be finished. The works order for the Quicksets is then entered onto CALCERT, which allocates a unique serial number which is then laser-marked onto each screwdriver. They'll be kept in number order from now on to make packing easier.

The tools are then calibrated (the photo shows a Quickset being calibrated by Assembler Linda Fazzone), given a final quality check, cleaned, labelled and packaged, and put on the conveyor to finished goods, where Angela Padfield will book them in for despatch. Finally, Beverley Woodley organises despatch by carrier, or if it's an export order, Sally Dinallo prepares export documentation supplementary to the despatch note. The screwdrivers then leave the factory, every effort having been made to despatch them on time or hopefully earlier!

That tells you how our Quicksets progress through the factory, but what about the work that goes on behind the scenes?

It may be that a specific order for Quicksets has been made through work done by our external sales team, David Broadhead, Simon Ogden and Matt Burman. When an order comes in, the internal sales team check to see if it's a new order, an order from a previous quote, or an amendment to an order. You may end up speaking to Peter King or Matthew Newberry; they will all ensure your order is exactly right for your requirements and open an account for you if necessary.

The order is date-stamped and any particular instructions are noted, and then it passes to Production Controller Tim Colmer. If the order is from an original quote, Tim checks the lead times to check that the delivery time given to the customer is still viable. If it's a new order, he checks existing stock and slots the order in with other orders. It's a constant juggling act to try and ensure that all customers are kept happy. It may be that there is insufficient stock to make the order up, in which case Tim looks at work in progress to see if some Quicksets are coming through assembly. It may be that there is a component shortage or that assembly capacity is stretched, in which case further juggling will be necessary! Any issues like this are immediately flagged and investigated; for example, overtime may need to be increased to cover a major order. As it's such a popular product, however, we ensure that it's always under production and in stock.

Assuming that the parts are available, a date is fixed for lead time to despatch, and a reason code created which explains why this time has been allocated. It's important to note that we say 'despatch' and not 'delivery' as we have varying control over timing once the goods have left the factory!

In addition to as-needed Quickset orders, Torqueleader also has regular weekly and monthly shipments to some customers which helps them to consolidate the receipt of tools into their warehouses. For export orders, shipments are consolidated in conjunction with customers to keep costs down.

After a despatch date and reason code have been allocated to the order, it goes back to the sales office where it's entered into SYSPRO and a new 'demand' is created. If there are sufficient numbers in finished goods, then the order will go out on the date given, or preferably earlier.

We hope that this article will demonstrate our commitment both to producing torque tools of unrivalled quality and to keeping the needs of our customers and distributors at the forefront of every step of the process. Hopefully, having read it, you might also decide you need some more Quickset screwdrivers!

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