Rise & Recline: A textbook example of how to partner with academia
As the mobility industry, like so many others, starts on the road to recovery, companies within the sector are looking to what comes next. At the start of the year, THIIS spoke with John Lougher, the new director heading up the transformation at Rise & Recline Ltd. Now the company is working with a highly respected academic institution on a project to propel its plans forward.
The Long Eaton-based mobility furniture manufacturer is collaborating with Nottingham Trent University (NTU) as part of the institution’s Productivity Improvement Programme – a new initiative designed to support businesses as they navigate the next stage of COVID-19.
Partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and available to small and medium-sized companies in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, the scheme sees the university bringing its considerable academic expertise to bear on the company’s manufacturing processes.
The collaboration comes as Rise & Recline continues its journey of transformation following the entrance of the former LG director in September 2019.
New projects in the pipeline
Over the past 11 months, John has spearheaded several changes at the small British manufacturer, changing the way it engages with its trade partners and refining how it operates internally.
Last month, the mobility furniture specialist unveiled its new website with features designed to make it easier for customers to find the right option from its wide and bespoke product range.
“The website was phase one and has been launched to make it easier to navigate around our product range and select the right product,” explains John.
“We also have the Chair & Bed Builder modules available soon to our mobility customers so there will be more to follow on that.”
While the new website is impressive, it is the Production, Planning & Control (PPC) system that the company is currently creating with NTU which could be game-changing for Rise & Recline.
Innovation through integration
The purpose of the project is to integrate the new website’s ordering system to Rise & Recline’s manufacturing processes, digitising existing manual process, simplifying the method and reducing the chances of human error.
“As the country comes out the other side of lockdown, the need to increase productivity has never been higher.” John Lougher
Speaking with John back in February, he detailed how streamlining the company’s production processes was high on his agenda as he looked to improve efficiencies.
Working with the university, however, is enabling the manufacturer to fast track one of the most difficult and expensive projects in its pipeline.
Dr Aquila Yeong and Associate Professor Roy Stratton of the Nottingham Business School are advising the mobility furniture manufacturer on the introduction of a PPC system.
“Working with NTU experts on the project has enabled us to turn a big wish into reality within months,” states John.
“For an SME, this is invaluable in helping our business grow in a challenging business landscape.”
Once the integrated PPC system is in place, Rise & Reclines predicts the seamless ordering system will improve overall productivity and ensuring it continues to hit its tight seven to 10-day commitment to turn around bespoke products.
According to the university, the project encapsulates what its Productivity Improvement Programme is all about: Supporting businesses to adopt new technologies to improve efficiency and save money.
Alongside implementing the new system, the university is also sharing industry best practice with Rise & Recline’s team who will use the new system, upskilling its workforce in the process.
“It is fair to say that this project looks like it will exceed our expectations and is an excellent example of what can be achieved by working together,” adds John.
The new PPC system is set to have a digital platform that links together the manufacturer’s commercial software, client management system and the new website.
Bringing academics and business together
Aiming to stand as a shining example of what happens when SMEs and universities combine forces, NTU says the partnership will hopefully encourage further industry collaborations as the institution looks to support more companies in the wake of coronavirus.
Dr Nigel Wright, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at NTU, explains: “The collaboration with Rise & Recline demonstrates NTU’s commitment and readiness to support SMEs and their aspirations for continuous improvement, particularly as businesses respond to impact of COVID-19.
“Utilising new technology effectively will be a key factor in getting through this recovery period by enabling businesses to make their operations as efficient as possible.
“Rise & Recline’s determination for development and growth has changed the lockdown into an opportunity to rethink their business processes. We look forward to hearing from similarly minded ambitious businesses who we would be keen to help.”
As the project moves through its various phases, the university confirms its experts will continue to provide support throughout, from development to testing the new technology and supporting Rise & Recline to embed the final working system.
“For an SME, this is invaluable in helping our business grow in a challenging business landscape.” John Lougher
Alongside rise & Recline, NTU is currently supporting 19 other businesses across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire through the programme, helping SMEs as they shift focus from COVID-19 survival to reaching out for post-lockdown opportunities and overcoming post-lockdown challenges.
“The NTU project highlights that by business and academia working together, companies can become far more efficient and productive,” finishes John.
“Before the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown at the end of 2019, productivity in the UK was called out for being 10 to 15 per cent behind Germany and more than 30 per cent behind the US. As the country comes out the other side of lockdown, the need to increase productivity has never been higher.
“If companies can produce more products in the UK more efficiently, then it will certainly play a part in helping the economic recovery and reducing the reliance on imported goods.
“In the post-coronavirus and post-Brexit reality facing the country, we must be able to take up the challenge of manufacturing high-quality products competitively and this can only be achieved if we can make products efficiently enough to make a margin.”https://thiis.co.uk/rise-recline-a-textbook-example-of-how-to-partner-with-academia/https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/rise-and-recline-steps-up-production.jpg?fit=900%2C590&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/rise-and-recline-steps-up-production.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1More About...NewsroomSupplier NewsTrade FocusTrade NewsAs the mobility industry, like so many others, starts on the road to recovery, companies within the sector are looking to what comes next. At the start of the year, THIIS spoke with John Lougher, the new director heading up the transformation at Rise & Recline Ltd. Now the...Calvin BarnettCalvin Barnettcalvin@thiis.co.ukAdministratorTHIIS Magazine