Silver lining without the cloud: Righton Blackburn’s quality shines through

If getting an SC21 Silver award is cause for celebration, getting 12 Silvers in 12 consecutive years at Righton Blackburns (RB) Plymouth, 10/10 at RB Fareham, 7/7 at RB Bristol, 5/5 at RB Manchester and Glasgow, has to be off the chart, but that’s what Righton Blackburns has achieved.

The stockholder, distributor and processor of safety critical metals and plastics is taking things in its stride. On time in full (OTIF) deliveries and exceptional levels of quality and service have become second nature.

The Silver award, says Andy Gauler, RB’s Aerospace and Defence business manager, “is testament to our consistent performance as a supply chain partner to customers working in the challenging industries of aerospace and defence.”

“It’s good to have awards and be associated with major OEMs and their tiers, but essentially SC21 is a very good box of common sense tools, that if used correctly, will improve your business and bring you closer to your customers and suppliers. Why wouldn’t you want to do it?”

Why indeed. It’s a question perplexing Gauler, who has been associated with the programme administered by ADS since 2008.

“The SC21 award criteria has a number of elements that are pre-requisites of the AS9100D Quality Management System, so if you are doing it right, you are not going to need to completely reinvent the wheel for your AS audits.

“What would be advantageous to all SC21 award winners would be a greater recognition by the OEMs and tiers of the value of SC21 in reducing total acquisition costs and for buying communities to create environments that allow for collaborative dialogue and for invitations to tender, to be at least granted.”

As he sees it, what is the downside for the primes and the tiers, who want to work with a supply-chain company in an open and transparent partnership and receive consistent year on year SC21 Silver performance or better? Even today however, whilst the fierce global battle rages for improved competitiveness and market share, “some companies still put no weighting on it,” Gauler added.

RB’s network of 10 strategically located UK service centres supplies all manner of Ferrous and Non Ferrous metals to the Aerospace, Defence, Power Generation, Marine, Process plant, and Automotive industries; these include Stainless Steels, Alloy Steels, Aluminium Alloys, Copper Alloys, Titanium Alloys and Nickel Alloys and a host of contract specific items.

An SC21 Gold award, said Gauler, is “probably beyond us” because RB’s international supply chain of mills face their own massive challenges caused by a surge in demand for Safety critical metals, especially in the aerospace and defence sectors, which is highly regulated and where demand continues to charge ahead of supply.

Maintaining Silver status is down to having strong relationships with both customers and suppliers alike –  “continually talking, updating things, providing market information, planning ahead, can we do this in a better way”.

“SC21 is the template for all our business and process improvements and is fundamental in all our decision making, incorporating ethics, relationships, supply chain partnerships, risk, opportunity and sharing best practice at all times.”