Wednesday 15 December 2021

Meet Stephen Nicholls, Garador’s Production Supervisor

Garador’s manufacturing operation is a major undertaking, with a heavily automated production line and large team of people working to produce hundreds of doors every week. Stephen Nicholls, a Production Supervisor at the firm, plays a key part in that process overseeing the finishing lines and ensuring doors are made to specification.

Most would expect a supervisory role in a production environment to be spent quietly sitting at a desk watching shiny finished garage doors come off a production line, but that couldn’t be further from the truth as Stephen Nicholls explains: 
“It’s a pretty varied role and I’m not always sat behind my desk. I do check my PC but I also manage a team of 30 production operatives so there’s a lot of interaction with my team to ensure smooth running of the department. We are constantly working to meet production deadlines and to get garage doors into the loading bay ready to ship.”

With a steady stream of production orders coming through, Stephen regularly checks his PC to see what doors need to be manufactured and at what stage in the production process they are, 
“I always keep on top of production orders. We use a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) which tracks and records each garage door as it passes through each step of the production process, from raw materials all the way through to a finished product. With MES there is quite a lot of screen work, but it helps us to manage what needs to be done.”
Stephen is no stranger to working in a manufacturing environment, having spent over 10 years at a factory producing high-quality leather which was used by garment manufacturers to make shoes, purses, gloves and jackets.
He comments: “Working with leather, it’s a natural product, so each piece of material was unique, but with steel the material is man-made so it’s far more uniform and consistent. The vast majority of our products are made with steel and I’ve got to admit I really like working with it, it’s such a robust material with so many application.”

Stephen really enjoys being on the factory floor and watching the automated technology quietly moving large garage doors around through the various stages in the production process “I get to know the people here and I am lucky that we have a committed workforce. There is a friendly atmosphere and good camaraderie across the entire factory.”
Over the years, the factory has become more automated as machines are used to make more of the individual components. In addition, there are lots of design options to choose from so it’s important for production to get each order right, as Stephen acknowledges:
“We offer a lot of different options on our up and over doors. Different sizes, lifting gear, frames, colours and an array of add-ons means I need to be looking at specifications and components all day, every day.”
It’s always very busy on the finishing lines and it can be a challenging role, trying to deliver business objectives whilst ensuring there aren’t any hiccups on the line, as Stephen explains:
“There’s a constant stream of doors coming down the production line, so we need to make sure that we’ve got the right people, in the right places, at the right time. Its high pressure, but also rewarding being able to see hundreds of doors all line up ready to go.”

Before the doors arrive at the finishing lines, they are constructed and painted. Following on from that, components, lifting gear, frames and handles are assembled on the door panel bringing together a finished product that is ready to send to the customer.
Stephen comments: “It’s obviously really important to have a good understanding of the production process, the materials and the equipment used to make components.”
There’s a lot that goes into working as a production supervisor, and no day is the same with different challenges to tackle. When Stephen talks about what makes the role enjoyable, he explains that “I like that my job has a tangible finished product to show at the end of the day. My neighbour has a Garador garage door and so I can see the end result of what my team and I are working hard to manufacture.”
He continues: “I take pride in the products that we make and as the lorries are loaded with new garage doors to be transported to their new homes, I know we are playing a role in British manufacturing and that’s something I’m proud of.”
When asked what makes Garador garage doors so special Stephen says:
“The doors are incredibly well-engineered and there is a great deal of care and attention put into the production process, so we can make a great door consistently.”
Looking to the future, Stephen envisages an even more automated production process and an environmentally conscious design:
“I think we’ll see more robots and machines as time goes on, which will ultimately mean even fewer doors that don’t pass quality control. I also think we will explore more environmentally conscious materials and ways of producing garage doors, from how the energy is generated to make the steel all the way through to what sorts of vehicles will deliver the garage doors. They’ll probably be electric vehicles, won’t they?”

Find out more about Garador and its range of garage doors by visiting or calling 01935 443722.

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