Redthorn Article in Aerospace Manufacturing Magazine – April 2020

Redthorn Article in Aerospace Manufacturing Magazine – April 2020

A double page spread about Redthorn, our Software and our Services was recently published in the Aerospace Manufacturing Magazine, April 2020 edition. The Q&A style article provides an insight into what Redthorn are all about, how we help our clients and how we operate in the Aerospace industry.


You can view the online version of the Aerospace Magazine and flip through to page 24 & 25 to read the article and the video on this blog shows you exactly how to get there. Just in case you can also read the article as the questions and answers are outlined below too:


In general, what are the latest trends and demands driving aerospace customer requirement for your software solutions and why? For example, satisfying ramp up rate demands, quick turnarounds, takt time adjustments, batch size variations, reduced set-up times, traceability, obsolescence management issues, stock turns, BoM rationalisation, satisfying AS9100 requirements, etc.?

Aerospace has always been very specific in its requirements for data accuracy and traceability and this hasn’t changed, however we are seeing increased requirement for visibility of data and connectivity to other systems, both internally and up and down their supply chain.

Customers are recognising the benefits and cost efficiencies of having multiple specialist systems that are interconnected rather than one all encompassing and often cumbersome large-scale ERP system.


Any other specific demands? Whilst the staples of price, quality and delivery are a given, anything else, such as customer relationships, flexibility, after-sales support, the personal touch for example?

Purchasers of software systems are far more knowledgeable than they used to be, so it is no longer viable to do a generic demonstration of software . Price and quality are key of course, but we have to understand what the customer wants from the system and address any list of requirements. Flexibility in the style of implementation and also payment structure are always key factors in the sales process.

At Redthorn we recognise that people still buy from people, and a good relationship will lead to a long-term customer.


Are you still surprised to see paper job cards, paper management of contracts and work schedules being used in customer facilities, or are these days long gone?

Paperless Job Cards are still very much the norm in most of our SME customers because they form part of a simple process. For many customers there is no substitute for being able to walk up to any job on the shop floor, pick up the card and instantly know what it is. We do have paperless customers, but it is certainly not the standard practise.

Work schedules are more commonly electronic now, and we have had EDI’s on our systems running for order book in-load for twenty years.


What specific areas in your suite of modules are proving most popular with your aerospace customers?

Customers who may have traditionally taken a relaxed approach to recording and reporting shop floor efficiency and productivity data are now investing their time in looking at this in conjunction with OEE data to ensure they are putting the best resource into continuous improvement on the shop floor. This has resulted in a far greater interest in what our data capture and quality modules can do for them.

To assist this process Redthorn are seeking funding for a project to Identify how SMEs will benefit from increased understanding of OEE, how to measure it with access to a prototype digital toolset and techniques as part of a scalable standardized continuous improvement platform that can be rapidly deployed by multiple tiers in the advanced manufacturing and Engineering supply chain and other high value manufacturing sectors.


Broadly speaking, what are the most important things (an achievable wish list) an aerospace manufacturing company engineer needs to know when specifying your products to best meet their tailored requirements?

Its always beneficial to Redthorn if a customer has a written statement of requirements or at least a view of what success would look like following the introduction of MRP. We can then tailor our approach to the demonstration and implementation stages.


Do you have any involvement/membership with industry and Governmental legislative bodies, such as ADS (SC21) or an aerospace cluster (NWAA)?

Redthorn are a Strategic Service Provider to the SMMT LTASC (Long Term Advanced Supply Chain) programme. Agile are sponsored by JCB working within its supply chain to support business transformation

Redthorn were selected to become a Leadership and Management development provider in September 2018 to support the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Levels (NMCL) in the Aerospace and Automotive sectors. This was endorsed by both the ADS and SC21 boards. The programme will be rolled out to over 400 Advanced Engineering companies over the next 4 years. The long term goal is to roll the programme out to both the Nuclear and Rail sectors.

Redthorn is a member of the NWAA and the consulting arm of the business were a key Strategic Service Provider within the £8.4m NWAA Aerospace Supply Chain Excellence Programme launched to create a “World Class” Aerospace supply chain in the North West of England. Agile continue to contribute to the development of the next generation supply chain programmes.

Redthorn’s CEO, Mark Hughes joined the Welsh Aerospace Forum Steering Board in 2014 and became a Director in 2017.


In terms of the levels of training and support you provide, is one of the major obstacles in helping your customers overcome their ‘comfort blanket’ attachment to their legacy systems?

MRP systems, even dated legacy ones, tend to be very embedded into customers and it is always a challenge to get users away from the comfort blanket of doing something because “that’s always how we have done it”.

The most important key to a successful implementation as far as Redthorn is concerned is the quality of our staff who deliver it and the supporting documentation and video resources. The trainers and helpdesk have many years of experience providing online, classroom, and one to one tuition.

Customers are additionally supported by our UK based helpdesk and, our web-based knowledge centre which contains; system videos, manuals, FAQs, and latest development news.


Looking at your suite of products encompassing MRP, ERP and the DNC link to the shopfloor, do you feel satisfied that your customers leverage the full benefits of its capabilities – or is it like MS Office, where people only utilise a fraction of its computing power?

Many customers do not use the full capabilities of our systems, but this is the case for most computer systems, be it CRM, ERP or whatever. Over the last few years continuous improvement projects have become more prevalent in SME Aerospace companies, often through grant funded activities. These often drive system improvement directives. A word of warning though, some consultants find it easier to blame the system rather than the process. Fortunately, our staff’s experience in consulting in the CI field enable us to ensure that any poor advice is challenged.


In terms of positive customer feedback, do you have any success stories you can relate without breaking any NDAs?

One of Redthorn’s Success stories is Field International Limited based in Poole. Incorporated in 1995, Field is a privately owned independent global engineering company, with a huge depth of knowledge, with the founders of the company having decades of experience in the precision engineering sector and particularly within the aerospace marketplace.

Field are UK’s only official Airbus Tier 1 supplier and a Boeing aircraft tooling licensee. Field International continues to be a Tier 1 supplier to BAE Systems.”

Three years after incorporation Field purchased their first MRP system with us. As They have grown over the last 25 years, they have upgraded their systems in line with our development journey. They now have Redthorn MRP installed globally and in the last few weeks we have transferred them to our cloud service to allow continuity of usage during the Covid 19 outbreak.


How do you see these systems in the future integrating with Industry 4.0, the Smart Factory, automation, robotics, adaptive machining and additive manufacturing and AI?

The MRP system will be a critical cog in the evolution of industry 4.0 as it contains, manages and processes so much data related to the manufacturing process. The MRP systems will evolve so they are constantly communicating with the systems around them, whether they are machines, robots or other AI related systems.

For example, we have a number of customers who use our systems for additive manufacturing and we also have a project running to deliver scheduled job data to a Fastems Pallet Production system. This is a system which automates the delivery of work to a cluster of machines via an automated conveyer system, so in many ways it is in advance of DNC and a reflection of Industry 4.0.


How do you see these systems in the future integrating with Industry 4.0, the Smart Factory, automation, robotics, adaptive machining and additive manufacturing and AI?

Good People, Experience, technology and location are all equally important assets for a company but a clearly defined strategy that is being actively deployed sets a company apart. We have a number of customers running policy deployment, usually through a company route map and SQCDP team boards., some of which have been implemented by our consultancy team. We have also taken what are traditional aerospace style activities and deployed them into other industry types, for example Packaging Automation Ltd, who specialise in Food Packaging Machines have deployed SQCDP into their entire business as part of a currently on track project to double the size of the business in five years.


What differentiates your company from the competition – why should a customer use your products over your nearest rival?

Redthorn are unique in that we have an extremely well established and cost-effective software solution that is supported by a team with years of experience working or consulting in high value engineering. This combination means we can add value across a far broader area of the customer’s business, ranging from subject matters such as MRP system best practises to leadership and management training.



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