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KTP improves efficiency and reduces waste at iNPIPE Products

Researchers from Newcastle Business School have helped increase operational efficiency and turnover at iNPIPE Products (IPP), a UK-based SME that specialises in oil and gas pipeline maintenance products.

Through a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), researchers from the NBS worked with iNPIPE to improve its business processes and to implement an integrated information system. By addressing operational culture as well as the technical support available, the company has been able to reduce the time taken to process sales, reduce the number of orders that arrived late and reduce the number of rejected products.

Working closely with staff, Professor Teresa Waring and her colleagues were able to identify improvements and developed a new integrated management system enabling more efficient and accurate data flows from order, through to design and the production.  They also trained the staff in the new business processes and computerised system.

Shari Thompson, iNPIPE ‘s business development manager during the KTP, said: “The KTP project has exceeded expectations. The support of the university staff has been invaluable in achieving the outcomes. Culturally, we are now a more open, transparent organisation in terms of decision-making.”

One of iNPIPE’s main products are devices known as pigs, which are used to clean the inside of oil and gas pipelines. The KTP project team modelled product dimensions, volumes, raw materials costs and profit margins to develop accurate business information for the company’s foam pigs and bi-directional pigs. The time taken to process sales for bi-directional pigs was reduced by 50 percent while the time taken to produce engineered drawings for the foam pigs was reduced from 5hrs to 15 minutes.

The company also managed to make an annual saving of more than £140,000 in its bi-directional pig products by reducing the number of rejected products. This was achieved by improving the quality and accuracy of the customer information supplied to the engineers at the very start of the production process. This translated into improved information flows, validation and accessibility of information, and thus fewer rejected products at the inspection stage.

“Working with the Northumbria team on this project has allowed iNPIPE to use their expertise and research knowledge to take the company forward in terms of increased sales, reduction in re-work and waste, and to facilitate a change in the company culture,” said Thompson

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