General News

3 Women in Manufacturing and their success – Midlands Edition

Women in Manufacturing

We are here to celebrate successful Women in Manufacturing on the lead up to International Women’s Day and as a female-led Business we feel happily obliged to do so! 

The Manufacturing Industry in February 2020 contained 74% Men and only 26% Women.

Many people believe that one of the reasons for the low amount of Women in Manufacturing is due to the lack of representation in the workplace and the media – including celebrating female role models in the industry. After speaking to Apprentices in blog 1 there is a definite discussion needed around the education system and pushing STEM roles at this stage as well as a discussion within the Industry itself; sharing positive experiences.

Engineering Industry

Another contributing factor is the need to have more representation in the form of blogs, articles, news and media coverage – even searching for royalty free imagery of ‘Women in Manufacturing’ came up with little to no results…

We need to be able to read and celebrate these motivating women that exist out there as this will encourage others that it is possible to be successful in a male dominated sector and continue to bridge that gap; having those role models really is crucial to young women. If they can see someone else like them in the sector succeeding and thriving, then why can’t they? 

So we wanted to do just that, by talking to 3 Businesses in the Midlands proudly run by Women and ask them: What does it take to get to where they are? 

Emma Hockley - Big Bear Plastic Products Ltds.

We spoke to Emma Hockley, the MD of Big Bear Plastic Products Ltd based in Droitwich, Worcester:

Tell us about yourself, how have you got to where you are today? 

E: “I work for Big Bear Plastic Products Ltd, a manufacturing business specialising in the design, development and production of technical thermoplastic components using vacuum-forming and compression forming technology. I was recently promoted to Managing Director, following 6 years working in various roles across the business, but most recently as Sales Director. Big Bear was founded by my father, Gerald Bloom, and so with my appointment as MD we are able to establish a strong succession plan and map a long-term future for our business. 

Admittedly, it has been something of a baptism of fire, since Big Bear is actually the first manufacturer I have worked for; my previous roles could not have been more different and my education was also not designed with manufacturing in mind! I completed my A levels (in English Lit, French and Spanish), followed by a degree in English Lit and Spanish at the University of Leeds.

After uni I landed a work experience job with the PR department at Harrods – and then worked my way up to eventually become Buyer for Perfumery & Cosmetics, which was the largest buying division in the store with a turnover of c.£58m, and then Head of Marketing for the whole of the Beauty division. 

Big Bear Plastic Products Ltd.
Image from Big Bear Plastic Products Ltd. website.

When I first started at Big Bear I felt totally unprepared, having come from a completely different world. But the more I understood the business the more I realised that my time at Harrods had actually given me valuable training in many of the skills I needed. Ultimately, business is about keeping your customers happy, and if there is one thing Harrods does well, it is customer service!

Harrods was high pressured, fast paced, and expectations were high – it was a very slick operation. Unlike manufacturing, there were a lot more women in senior roles and I had the privilege of working for two female bosses who were very tough, but totally inspiring and who definitely pushed me and educated me on so many levels.” 

How did you get into working within Manufacturing and what enticed you to choose this industry over others? 

E: “I can’t really say that I chose to end up working in Manufacturing…it was more by accident than by design! My husband and I decided to move back to Birmingham before our son was born, in order to be close to our families. When I was ready to go back to work, I thought a daily commute to Harrods would be a bit much!

So I started doing some marketing work at Big Bear…I re-launched the website and wrote new marketing collateral. The more I learned about the business, the more questions I asked, the more interested I became and it took off from there. I started working with the sales team and began to raise the profile of the business with new customers.” 

As you will know, Women represent just 26% of people working within Manufacturing. After your promotion to Managing Director of Big Bear Plastic Products how has your journey to this position been in terms of being in a superior role over a predominantly male industry? 

E: “I have found it quite difficult, because not only am I a woman in a predominantly male business, I am also the boss’s daughter! Not to mention that I started with no previous experience of manufacturing. So I had a massive case of imposter syndrome and it has taken me a long time to build my confidence to where it was when I was in a senior role at Harrods feeling completely sure of myself and what I was doing.

I have worked hard to build strong relationships with my colleagues and to establish my own style and way of working. One of the most challenging things I have found is questioning the status quo, and not being brushed away or fobbed off with a “because that’s how it is” style of answer…I had to keep pushing, and it has taken a lot of persistence and determination to get to a point where I can say “I’m sorry but I don’t accept that…” 

From the beginning of your career to now, have you come across any challenges working within Manufacturing and how you have overcome them?

E: “Oh my goodness, absolutely loads! There is always something to deal with, it seems that it’s never straightforward! Just when I think I’ve got the hang of it something else happens which will be a whole new learning curve. But I suppose that is what makes life interesting… and ultimately, you have to get high quality parts out of the door on time, and not let the customer down. Of course, things go wrong, but to overcome them, generally it’s a case of bringing your team together and focusing everyone’s mind on the problem at hand.”

Lastly, could you give us some inspirational advice to any young female who is looking to start her career within the Manufacturing/Engineering Industries? 

E: I didn’t start my own career in Manufacturing, and I do wish I had had the opportunity to have more “hands on” experience working in the factory. If I was starting again then I would definitely spend more time on the shop floor understanding the processes and production side of the business. Having said that, does it matter that I don’t know how to operate a mould machine? Not really, because I have an experienced team around me who do a brilliant job, and I bring other skills which the business needs also.”

Take criticism – ask for it, learn from it and do better next time. Keep going, you will get knocked back and you will feel like you can’t do it but you can!

“Most importantly though, I believe if you bring lots of energy and enthusiasm to whatever you are doing, the opportunities will definitely come.”

Marie Palmer - CIWS

We then spoke to Marie Palmer, a Director at Cast Iron Welding Services based in Leicester. She is very passionate about the representation of Women in the industry as well as Apprenticeships and she kindly shared her experiences with us: 

How did you get into working in the Manufacturing Industry? 

M: “I was in Legal working for a Solicitors for many years and my route into working in the Engineering industry happened to be a process improvement project, particularly a new computer system enabling better traceability and communications. It was a challenge as it involved changing a lot of internal systems that were very paper based. After successfully carrying that project out my job evolved; over time I was given more responsibilities due to my background such as the quality assurance side of the business, accreditations, etc. Now as Director, I assist the MD in managing all operations carried out within CIWS.  

I am not a trained engineer; however, I have a good skill set including what they call the ‘helicopter approach’ – which allows me to see the overall picture when having a problem which I need to find a solution to. I have a varied role in my position at an SME including being in charge of H&S too. Not one day is the same!”

Along your Career Journey – have you had any issues/challenges along the way working within a male-dominated environment?  

M: “It was initially quite intimidating so I think you have to be confident and ask questions. For instance, if I was needing help with a technical side of the business I would need to speak with the technical team of course, who happen to be all male. However I’ve always found that if you showed an interest, want to understand how it all works and asked the right questions they were great at embracing the change and helping me.

I have been fortunate on a day to day basis but I do think that my experiences of attending exhibitions and being on the sales side that women are a minority. Sometimes you may not be given the consideration because of not having the engineer or technical background, it is something I have come across however I use it as a challenge – I am going to ask more questions and make you engage with me!  

Marie Palmer - CIWS

Marie in Mexico when setting up their franchise: “I was fortunate enough to have a tour of a power station, the cylinder heads that we remanufacture fit on the engine behind me.”

I joined Made in the Midlands in 2019 and it was one of the best things I could have done. As it’s geared around the Manufacturing Industry it’s very male dominated of course – my first intro meeting (before the likes of zoom) I remember walking in to the room full of men. It was a bit daunting but everyone was so welcoming and I felt comfortable straight away. I have connected with lots of different people from different companies – I’ve had such a positive experience so far.

For me, trying to find organisations that have the positive approach to diversity and equality is one of the best things I have chosen to do – it’s given me the confidence in putting myself out there. Women do have a strong place in this industry and nothing should put you off.”

I know you are passionate about the representation of females within the industry, do you have any inspirational words of advice to any aspiring women in manufacturing? 

Try and talk to as many people as possible; don’t be afraid to connect with people and ask questions – we all have transferrable skills and something to bring to the table.

By having this in the back of your mind you have to take the leap and see what opportunities are there. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a traditional engineering background – it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply! Women are problem solvers and have an organisational way of thinking which fits within the Engineering industry. The jobs and opportunities available are very vast and you need a good cross section of different skills and abilities in any business in the industry, so take that leap and don’t hold back!

And lastly we spoke to our very own – Hana Robertson – to hear her experiences along her career journey up to HanaTech:

Hana studied BEng & BCom Manufacturing Engineering and Business @ University of Birmingham where she covered principles such as Computer Aided Design & Manufacturing, World Class Manufacturing & Total Quality Management. From here she gained much industry experience, progressing through different corporate operational and improvement roles to senior leadership roles such as Head of Digital.

We asked Hana more about her background:

Why did you choose to work within a STEM role and within Manufacturing?

H: “I do have a vague memory of a STEM workshop day, in Year 9 before choosing my GCSEs, which looking back was great considering I attended an all-girls school. This must have influenced me, as I chose an A level in Design Technology along with Maths, so I guess I was always destined to have a career in the engineering sector. I’ve always enjoyed problem solving and creating solutions. Unfortunately the STEM workshop didn’t influence many as only 4 of us took DT a A level and I was the only female from my year to do an engineering degree. There were only 3 females including myself on the degree intake of around 80/90 people.

It didn’t put me off though, in fact I think it inspired me more to work hard and prove the value I had to bring.

Relating back to my degree – I found the course really interesting. It was an end-to-end degree from design principles, solution prototyping, marketing and manufacturing – right through to finance. Taking a design concept right through to the end product was really rewarding and felt meaningful to me. Most people went into project/business management with my degree, but I liked the manufacturing environment.

I was fortunate enough to join a graduate scheme at Tarmac where I spent the first 8 years of my career progressing through operational and improvement roles, visiting dozens of quarries, asphalt, concrete and block plants throughout the UK during the time. I loved the straightforward, practical and hands-on ‘get on with it’ culture and met some amazing people.

What were your challenges or experiences in managing teams that were male dominant?

H: “It was my experience at Tarmac where I soon learnt what style would work and what approach to take, which I’ve built on during my career journey. Not only was Tarmac male dominated, particularly out in the operational roles, I held a change role from very early on as part of a national continuous improvement initiative and we all know that change is not easy.

I remember a certain quarry manager asking me:

What can you tell me about how to run my quarry?”

to which I calmly answered:

I don’t know about your quarry yet, but having visited many others I’ve seen a lot of good practice and not so good, that I am happy to share. Can we go and have a walk round now please?”

I think if I would have gone in as a head strong female leader I wouldn’t have had a good response and gained resistance. Instead I concentrated on shifting the focus of the conversation away from ‘who knows more’ back to the workings of the quarry and found that walking round the sites with these proud managers, asking lots of questions and making meaningful observations started to break down the initial barriers. I also didn’t take offence, and learned to grow broad shoulders.

I like to understand why people think or behave the way they do such as change and the notion of ‘comfort zones’ – which is why I focus on change management at HanaTech. This experience gave me a great foundation to go on and lead male technical teams such as the IT department at IESA, which was my last corporate role.

Even then I was faced with a few ‘techies’ who tried to challenge what I knew about a particularly technical aspect of IT infrastructure for example, to which I replied:

“is that not why we hire you? Talk me through our current set up, lets discuss the constraints and the business case, and then leave me as your manager to make something happen”.

Unfortunately for one individual, the fact that he had a female leader did not work for him and he left, but that’s ok too.

I’ve learned to be successful you need to have the right team around you who are engaged and committed. I am good at creating a vision and getting the team behind it, as well as not being afraid to ask the ‘silly’ questions that other managers may not ask.

Why do you think that there are less Women in Manufacturing and STEM roles?

H: “I find this hard to answer as I have such a bias towards the industry. But reeling off the stats earlier shows just how low the percentage of females even taking the subjects are let alone starting a career within STEM. 

I think that there are women out there that don’t want to enter the Manufacturing sector due to their perception of the environment or perhaps feeling intimidated. I mentioned earlier some situations where having broad shoulders has helped, but it could have as easily put someone off.

In my time I have conducted many site visits and attending a male-dominant workplace can have its downsides, for example the odd characteristic ‘inappropriate’ calendar on display in a locker room or kitchen area, which of course could be very off-putting to potential new staff if they were female; it’s these things which let the perception down at a time where there is a push for workplace diversity.

Women in Tech

However, I think the pace of change in technology could bring more females into STEM roles, particularly Technology roles. As a Head of Digital I was pleased when I started to see more female software developer applications coming through and I hope that this is only on the increase as digital technology becomes more creative and focussed on user experience and consumer behaviour.

I’d imagine that it will be sectors such as B2C, retail, finance and services that see the increase in females first, with manufacturing unfortunately trailing behind for the perception reasons I’ve mentioned. However, I think with the drive on sustainability and the circular economy, this could bring more females into manufacturing and STEM roles, as this publicity is raising awareness of just how much direct impact you could make in these roles and in this fantastically important sector.

Keep up to date with our Women in Manufacturing blogs and more by subscribing – Follow us on our socials to join in the conversation!

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General News

Now let’s celebrate – 3 Female Apprentices in Manufacturing

Manufacturing UK

It is known that women represent under 1/4 of the Manufacturing Industry – a predominently male sector.

We are here to celebrate our women, today’s topic –  Female Apprentices in Manufacturing 💪

Why is this dear to us you ask? HanaTech is a female-led business of course, made up of Hana herself, and Shannon (myself) – the marketer. We feel passionate about speaking up on the representation of women in our industry (take a look at our 9 inspiring Women in Tech post here) and feel it should be celebrated in the lead up to International Women’s Day (March 8th)

The industry contributes towards every part of our country from travel, to automobiles, to consumerism and the economy; it’s the foundation of how the world works. The everyday average person may not notice it but from the second you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, Manufacturing has played a part of your day: 

You get the idea.  

But what creates a successful business starts with the people who are part of it – every staff member from every department plays an important role in keeping the cogs turning. Some employee’s may have been at their business from day 1 of leaving school, some may be part of a family business, others may have joined through a job vacancy.

Apprenticeships are generally associated with construction or engineering but there are so many out there for many different job sectors and it is a great way to start a career path with gaining important qualifications whilst physically gaining the experience.

Female Apprentices in Manufacturing

Many young people today struggle to find a job role after university due to lack of experience; whilst they have the knowledge and qualifications, many companies look for more than that.  A 2019 study shown that female apprentices in manufacturing are outnumbered 14-to-1 by their male peers.

In the current climate of the global pandemic, COVID-19 had risen the rate of unemployment and students are worried:

 Research by UK-based graduate jobs website Milkround shows just 18% of graduates are securing jobs this year (2020) compared to the typical 60%* 


 We spoke to 3 female apprentices in Manufacturing businesses to find out more about their roles:

Raisa Matadar

Raisa Matadar, a 23 year old Mechatronics Maintenance Technician at JLR paint shop based in Solihull, UK. Her daily tasks involve:

  • Servicing and maintaining the sealer, paint robots and guns
  • Attending breakdowns on the overhead and IPF conveyor systems that the vehicle bodies are transported on and carrying out fire safety audits

She has also led a team project based around cost saving and reducing energy usage.

Raisa has proudly won the following regional and national awards – 

● ‘Top 50 Female Apprentices in Engineering by the Women’s Engineering Society in June 2019

● ‘Highly Commended’ at The Asian Apprenticeship Awards 2019

● ‘Rising Star’ at WorldSkills UK Diversity and Inclusion Awards

●Shortlisted for ‘Apprentice of The Year’ at Enginuity (SEMTA) in September 2020

What made you go down the route of an Apprenticeship rather than simply applying for job vacancies? 

R: I really loved the academic aspect of school and sixth form! I enjoyed learning and wanted to try everything that I possibly could. My parents moved to the United Kingdom to give me and my brother a better chance at education and life that they had access to – so I always knew how important learning would be and the opportunities it would unlock for me. 

It wasn’t until I completed a week of work experience with my brother, that I fell in love with engineering. My brother was the first in our family to choose to do an apprenticeship – everyone else before had taken the more traditional university route and everyone had expected me to do the same. Watching my older brother working with tools and machines, designing, creating and fixing aerospace components sparked an interest in me. The only difference was, he liked planes and I liked cars. I watched him build up his skill throughout his 4-year apprenticeship, gain a university degree and secure himself a job that he loved, all without the debt a traditional route would have added. 

I began to research engineering firms around the midlands, and was surprised at the time to find that manufacturing jobs totalled to 8% of jobs in the UK – yet manufacturing careers were never talked about by our career advisors! Ultimately, I chose manufacturing as the process from design to manufacture excited me. Knowing that an idea on paper could be bought to life and used to solve real, everyday problems was something that I wanted to be a part of. Not only that, but manufacturing was everywhere! From food to transport, beauty products and agriculture. 

What made you want to work for a huge manufacturer such as JLR?

R: I have been obsessed with Range Rovers since I was a little kid – this obsession carried onto my teens and I was convinced that one day I would own one. JLR, being Britain’s largest car manufacturer was only a short drive away from me. I applied to lots of different engineering companies but JLR stood out for me as my first choice. 

My employer has also been extremely supportive in all of the extra-curricular activities that often take you away from ‘your day job’ as an apprentice. I have had the opportunity to travel abroad, regularly meet with MPs to discuss apprenticeships and I am asked to speak about my experience as a female engineer from different parts of the business regularly.

What are your thoughts on the lack of Women in Manufacturing/Engineering; why do you think this is?

R: I don’t feel like engineering is really presented as an opportunity to young women out there. I know that my careers advisors never talked to me about engineering, even though they knew that my brother had taken a similar path. I think manufacturing in general is still seen as a ‘man’s’ job. 

I think a lot of it is to do with culture too. I have spoken to lots of women who entered the manufacturing sector in hands on roles and after a couple of years ended up in more office-based roles. Manufacturing is slowly increasing the number of intakes each year of female engineers, but its retention rates have a lot to do with the culture that can be deeply rooted within the sector. 

I have always said that you can’t be who you can’t see.

If I had seen a woman of colour, working on machines and robots, and excelling in a predominantly white male workforce, it would’ve encouraged me to pursue the role I am in now much sooner. So I am a big believer in role models and the more positive female engineers we have out there, the less likely a young girl is going to doubt if the world of manufacturing is for her or not. 

Jamie Painter - AE Aerospace Ltd

Jamie is a 24 year old Marketing and Communications Apprentice for AE Aerospace Ltd – a machine to print, subcontract precision machining company for the Aerospace, Marine & Defence industries based in Birmingham, UK. Since she started in 2020, she has already gained much knowledge about her company and what it means to be an SME in supply chain; she has even set up a TikTok account for AE Aerospace creating amazing content and increasing brand awareness!


What made you go down the route of an Apprenticeship rather than simply applying for job vacancies? 

J: I had always thought I wanted to pursue a career in Psychology and did in fact obtain a degree in BSc Psychology in 2019. However, working as Public Relations Officer alongside my degree made me realise that I would rather build a career out of something I enjoy. During the first lockdown, I felt unfulfilled and unable to even secure an interview for marketing companies because I had 0 qualifications in the sector and going back into full time education was not ideal for me.

An apprenticeship was the best way forward as I was learning valuable skills whilst earning. It meant I could apply the digital marketing theory to the campaigns we were producing – gaining great experience. I wanted to find a role that had scope for development and some creative freedom in terms of the type of content I wanted to create, thus bringing me to my current role as Marketing and Communications Apprentice at AE Aerospace. 

Why did you want to be in Manufacturing over other sectors?  

J: When applying for Marketing Apprenticeships I was really open-minded about what sector I would like to work in.

I’m a strong believer of having a healthy work/life balance and have found that a positive work environment is a direct contributor to the quality of work you produce.

This is initially what attracted me to AE in the interview stage, the welcoming nature of the team here really spoke to me. Furthermore, because AE Aerospace is an SME, I felt that I would be able to learn a lot here and there was also the opportunity to grow within the business. I like the creative freedom I have to try new ideas and also the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. Plus, it’s an aerospace company so maybe when all this is over we may be able to get on a plane somewhere! 

Why do you think that there is a lack of female apprentices in manufacturing? 

J: Honestly, I think a lot of females including myself can feel overwhelmed simply by the phrase ‘manufacturing sector’. It has been a male dominated industry as long as we can remember and to break into that can be scary! For instance, even now in 2021 ‘Lego friends’ is targeted towards girls whilst ‘Lego city’ is marketed to boys. This conditioning process sets a path for the types of careers different genders should go into… 

I would like to believe change is coming, for instance we now have a female craft apprentice on the shop floor. I hope this encourages others who may be interested in aerospace engineering to take that step knowing that there is another female there too.  

Alisha Slough - High Peak Steels

And last but not least, we spoke to Alisha Slough, a 22 year old who works in Sales and Marketing for High Peak Steels, a Steel stockholders based in Glossop, UK. She has worked for the company for 5 years, being an integral part of the team. 

Tell us about yourself:  

A: I am quite outgoing and will speak my mind a little too much sometimes. I work in the steel sector where I started out as a business admin apprentice and gradually worked my way up to being full time in sales. I am now on a digital marketing apprenticeship.

Why did you want to work for a Manufacturing Business such as High Peak Steels? 

A: I wanted to work for High Peak Steels as at the time it was a great business opportunity for myself with room to grow but I soon learnt that this sector is male dominated. At first it was a little intimidating however now in my day to day I thrive off showing the men how well a woman can do this job too! During Covid we have helped in the ventilator challenge and providing materials for cargo to ship medical equipment up and down the country, even though this is only a very small part in the help to beat COVID I am proud to say we have helped towards it and kept it all British. 

Why do you think that there is a lack of female apprentices in Manufacturing or even just Women in Manufacturing job roles? 

A: Personally I think women are intimidated by the men in this industry and they don’t need to be. We need more women to overcome this stereotype which I think is slowly starting to happen. Its perceived as a ‘man’s world’ in the engineering game but it’s really any world you make it. 

Keep up to date with our Women in Manufacturing blogs and more by subscribing – Follow us on our socials to join in the conversation!

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HanaTech News Change Management Digital Process Improvement Helpful Advice & Tips

1 Expert Digital Improvement Plan

A Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas to you all! 

Our last day is here, and we’re just about ready to head into 2021! But not without showing you our continuous digital improvement plan…  
12 Days of HanaTech Christmas

Let’s recap what we’ve learnt over the 12 Days of HanaTech Christmas:  

  • 12 Reasons why we all NEED to change, showing different case studies and motivating reasons why  
  • 11 Innovations all around us that we don’t even realise they come second nature, things we use every single day to keep our lives going much easier and efficiently  
  • 10+ hours lost and how to TIME MANAGE successfully; with advice and tips around starting to manage your time, how to go about it and why it’s important 
  • 9 hugely inspiring Women in Tech and how their inventions shaped the future of today  
  • 8 tough but actionable wastes in your business, explained and what you should do about yours 
  • 7 motivating reasons to NOT give up hope, with tips and advice on how to be proactive, set those goals and to continue your journey 
  • 6 important pain points you need to improve in your business, what they are and where to start your overview development plan  
  • 5 Gold savingsssssss! (Never get’s old) A few cost free ways to get those quick wins in the business yourself with some resources  
  • 4 key factors in your development journey which you look at through your 6 pain points, what the factors are and where to get started with your plan of action 
  • 3 vital words – Digital Baseline Review, what it is and how we use it to start your business’es digital process improvement plan 
  • 2+ easy ways to speak to us, a little bit about HanaTech’s employee’s and different ways to contact us

Which leads us to here… 

At HanaTech we do things differently.  

We aren’t your usual Business Consultancy. We work with you from beginning to end, every step of the way. We don’t just offer business advice, we work out a digital improvement plan keeping you included whilst offering our expert advice on how to digitally improve your workplace. We aren’t here to ‘force a sale’, we’re here because turning traditional factories to factories of the future is our passion.

We’re bespoke and tailor the plan to your business needs – none of this cold call style sales speech, just pure honest advice. We’re transparent with you, as we believe in a not just a smart factory, but a transparent glass factory future; to be able to show customers your processes and be PROUD of how successful you are.  

Digital improvement plan

That’s why it’s a continuous digital improvement plan!  

We start off with quick wins and work our way from there, depending on the business. If you’re not quite ready for large digital solutions that’s okay! We’ll do our Digital Baseline Review by looking over the 6 pain points, identifying the 4 key factors along the way and we can create your digital improvement plan to span over as much time as you need.  

We help you understand the solutions, work with you to tweak it to your specifications and we’ll also put in our expertise and add solutions you will not have thought of.  

Here to Help

We build trust and relationships as the end goal, is to get your business on top of the competition, but continually holding that position by working on change management and the last key factor – culture of innovation.


We hope you enjoyed the 12 Day’s of HanaTech Christmas – it’s jam packed of great advice, tips, and how to work with us!  

Set those 2021 New Year’s Resolutions and speak to us to help start your journey…  

HanaTech has some amazing projects in the pipelines so don’t forget to follow us on our socials and our main LinkedIn page to keep up to date with any announcements.. Which there may be some in January! 


Stay Safe, and have a great one! 

HanaTech Ltd.  

Digital Process Improvement in the West Midlands
Digital Process Improvement

6 important pain points you need to improve

Today’s post will be more manufacturing business focused – but this can be adapted to your workplace… The 6 important pain points in the process – what are they? 

Usually there are 6 areas within the business where there are pain points; process areas end to end that could be improved, adapted and transformed (remember those 8 wastes!) 

We are going to run you through our Process Map and identify those areas, why they are important to know, how these areas affect your interactions with potential or current clients and how to go about arranging your digital process improvement plan. 

Pain Points
Enquiry and quote logo

Enquiry & Quote – The start of your manufacturing process

This is a KEY process; if at this stage there are issues, customers will not stick around. You have all heard of first impressions right? Everyone wants it to be as easy as a click of the button and be able to enquire, contact and get quotes efficiently.

An example of a pain point:

Difficult to track a quote as it has only been recorded via paper/email and not inputted into a system; which leads to no organised turnaround of quotes and tracking how many are coming through.  

Order logo

Order – Where the magic begins…

This is where you need to be accurate as mistakes are easy to make here.. But at a cost if it messes up your inventory

An example of a pain point: 

Orders usually manually inputted which leads to no transparency and difficult to measure quote to order conversions. These figures and KPI’s are super important to gain for reports; to see where you need to improve and stay ahead of the competition.  

Production, maintenance, warehouse logo

Production, Maintenance and Warehouse Management –

You’ve got to this stage, this is where you start producing the product… You want as little mistakes and as accurate results as ever with fulfilling the orders.

An example of a pain point: 

A stand-alone production system which is difficult to track work in progress, machine performance, a time lag in monitoring stock levels if at all able to monitor them and a reactive maintenance system. All of these can cause a huge problem with the TIME waste, as well as not having visibility of what is happening at what time… if you don’t know what is going on it doesn’t put much faith in your customers! People will lean towards a efficiently run business rather than a poorly run one every day.  

Despatch logo

Despatch –

This is always an area of frustration and possible complaints from your end and the customer’s end throughout the processes. Especially if you are an SME, complaints is not a good thing of course… as it’s a known fact people look at reviews. What’s the first thing you do when you’re researching a product, restaurant or service? Read the reviews, or even sometimes read the bad ones. Getting your despatch process right could make or break a business.

An example of a pain point: 

Third party despatching with no transparency of goods tracking for you or your customer. If you don’t have visibility, this is very risky as this leaves you with no answers to give to your customer who’s receiving the product. If you DO have visibility of tracking but your customer doesn’t, at least you can contact and keep them updated, although this falls into the wastes of unneccessary contacting when an automated tracking system for both parties would be suffice.  

After service logo

After service –

Leading on from your despatch, these go hand in hand. Without providing your customer with tracking details, despatch notes or any other information this leads to the customer contacting you

An example of a pain point: 

Manual customer service processes with no information to provide to the customer. As discussed in Despatch, if your customer has no information then this leads to frustration, lack of trust and bad reviews. Also, the timing of after service is vital, nobody likes it when you get a response 7 days later – however if you are having to manually search and find a despatch this can be time consuming.  

Invoice and Payment logo

Invoice and Payment –

Finally the last step, sending out those invoices and receiving payments. This is detrimental to both parties as after all, the end goal is payment.

An example of a pain point:  

Manual processing of invoice and invoice queries, with pressure building up around month ends and end of tax years with cash often held up in order to cash process. Every process relies on the other and if we are waiting for invoices to be manually processes, payments will then get held and everything will be backlogged. A lot of processes lead back to time management, as once you adapt and improve your processes time is saved and your business runs smoothly.

Why over process?

Something like your invoices can be automated, saving your admin much more time and being able to complete other tasks. As well as that, it also ensures your customer you are on the ball, providing them with everything they need quickly.  

You can use this Process Map for your own business whether it is a steel factory or an online clothing store, but it’s important to review your processes regularly in time with current events.

Gather feedback from customers and even just the public on what they want to see, but also go one step ahead and provide a spectacular service which outshines your competitors. If YOU need some help identifying your business pain points, why not speak to us! We can organise a Digital Baseline Review and start your journey of digital process improvement to transform your business! 

Drop us a follow on LinkedIn to keep up to date with us, we post regularly – come and join the conversations!

Digital Process Improvement

8 tough, but actionable wastes in your business

You know that you have some problem areas within your business, but you’re not sure where and how to even start dissecting each sector of processes… So we are going to show you 8 tough, but actionable wastes in your business:

What ARE the 8 WASTES and why are they important to know about? 

Sometimes you see technical jargon of an area that you don’t specialise in and it just doesn’t interest you. Your area is admin, why do you need to know about anything else? Or your area is in manufacturing, why do you need to know about all the wordy stuff? 

There are good reasons to know about the 8 wastes in your business..

8 wastes in your business

WHAT DO WE MEAN when we talk about 8 wastes? 

These are the areas of your business that all fit together for it to work; we focus on the Manufacturing Industry but this can be applied to many other businesses with some tweaking. These 8 areas are where you will find unnecessary processes that could either be dumped, tweaked or digitally improved to save TIME, MONEY, EFFORTS, and improve efficiency. The 8 wastes very much fits with Time Management as we mentioned in our previous blog post – the more processes you transform and improve, the more time you will gain back and so on so forth.  

Each part of a digital process improvement plan works with the other; by identifying if anything fits into the 8 wastes in your business. This then gives you problems to solve, to call in an expert, and then time manage until your business is on top of the competitive world. 


TRANSPORTATION – Are there unnecessary movements happening? Are there more efficient ways to complete this? Can you give more transparency to your customer waiting on your transportation? Could you bulk deliveries together through a digital system which updates and knows when deliveries are leaving/arriving at your warehouse? The possibilities are endless… 


INVENTORY – Are you over/under ordering stock and not using it? If that is the case, could you move your inventory online to gain a much better overall view of what is happening within your inventory and store all your data digitally? Inventories are a HUGELY important part of a business, your stock checks are something you need to keep records of and access information at ease. 


MOTION – Are there unnecessary movements within your business? Could time, and physical power be saved?  


WAITING – This falls into time management; are there processes within ANY sector of your business, the offices, the shop floor, the factory where TIME is wasted by waiting for something? Could time be managed better and processed organised to be automated, to have multiple things running so you aren’t waiting around for one thing to finish before you start another? 

Over Processing

OVER PROCESSING – Again, this will work for different kinds of businesses, but are you over processing a job that actually doesn’t need that level of quality? For example in the office, are you hand writing invoices when you could have them automatically produced and sent out with the touch of a button? This doesn’t mean that you are selling ‘under quality’ products, this just means that not every job will necessarily need a rolls royce to transport when a ford fiesta will work just fine.. Over processing also causes loss of money, time and falls into other wastes. 

Over Production

OVER PRODUCTION – Are you aware of each step in the process of your business and what goes after the other? Are some things happening too early? Is production happening more than it needs to be?  


DEFECTS – Are mistakes being made because of processes not working together efficiently? We all know what defects mean.. Customer complaints, loss of trade and money, loss of time having to rework… Loss of inventory Defects are the BANE of a business’s life… We ALL want to avoid this! 


SKILLS – Are there some processes which are manual based that could be transformed to digital/automated to then save TIME to utilise an employee’s hard earned knowledge and skills elsewhere? We all have had a moment in time where we feel our talents and skills are being underutilised.. And what a shame that is! Utilising skills could mean new intelligent ideas, new ways of working. People’s voices should be heard! 

NOW I KNOW the 8 wastes… WHAT DO I DO NOW? 

You go through your workplace.. Analyse what processes could be changed and transformed…  

A digital process improvement plan! But remember, you don’t have to do this all alone – ask an expert to help you! Business consultants, project/ operations managements, and process solutions are all the key factors to making an improvement plan. These things take time, it’s best to work in small chunks and go one solution at a time. Although it may seem a long, mundane thing to do.. You learn a lot about your business that you may not have known.. And who doesn’t want to better their selves? There is always something to gain out of an improvement plan… TIME. MONEY. A better running business giving customer more transparency means better connections, testimonials and feedback.  

Remember the whole ‘NEW YEAR NEW ME’? Maybe 2021 could be that year.. 

To put words into action. Many businesses have suffered during the 2020 pandemic and need to rethink their strategies, to adapt to the ever changing digital world. The public expect more from businesses because of the incline in technology and how quick it is to access information – people want that in their work lives too.  

Identify your wastes.. Or come to us where we can identify for you to get your digital process improvement plan! Keep up to date with our blog posts by following us on LinkedIn, or more below…

Change Management Industry 4.0

12 reasons why we desperately NEED change to survive

Xmas Hanabot

It’s the 12th Day of HanaTech Christmas! 

For our first blog post we are going to show you 12 reasons why we desperately need change to continue to survive…

What change you ask?  

The world is changing – digitally speaking. There are many innovations all around us that we will outline in day 11 that you never would have thought about, but for now we will give you 12 reasons why we desperately need change; adapting to the digital innovations around us to continue to thrive and build upon. 

1. The high street is on the decline…  

As sad as this may be for many, small businesses rely on in store purchases. But the high street has been on the decline even before the pandemic. As many people are adapting to the use of mobile phones (even your grandma uses Facebook these days!) social media advertising is fuelled with investment; most companies who are making use of the online presence know the stats: 92 per cent of UK adults are forecast to own a smartphone by 2023. 

In recent news, Primark had lost out to a whopping £2 BILLION over 2020’s 1st pandemic ALONE… all because they have no e-commerce website! It seems such a rookie mistake for the fashion giant to not have an online presence in this day and age… Luckily they are not in administration yet… 

Many small businesses who still rely on the face to face interaction need not fear, as it is super easy and cheap to have digital change and build an e-commerce site – still having their in store interaction. The best of both worlds! 

2. The future of WORK: demand for roles within the digital technology sector has grown by 150% over the past 4 years (2015 – 2018)* 

During the current climate of the pandemic, many jobs have been or will be at risk due to the unfortunate lack of need for some roles. HOWEVER, in the digital sector there has been a HUGE increase of demand due to digital change; digital marketers, social media analysts, content creators and more are highly sought after to fulfil brand ‘s online presence; the competition to be the most seen online is high.  

‘But I have trained all of my life to do my specific role, this isn’t fair!’ 

Do not give up! There may be ways for you to mould your current role into a more digital stance by retraining. There are many positives to retraining; especially if you have been in a role for 10+ years and feel pretty stagnant. You can refresh your daily work life, learn new things and have something more exciting to go to each day; as they say, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always got.’

3. Since the pandemic… EVERYTHING moved DIGITAL 

Most workplaces were shut, but many adapted to continue to work by the likes of…  you guessed it.. 

ZOOM. TEAMS. HANGOUTS. Or whatever platform you use…  

Zoom Meetings

But this mandatory digital change has only sparked the question; can we work from home most of the time?  This saves people money, time and effort on their commutes, less busy public transport which right now is key for keeping distance.. 

Here are a few companies that are now switching to remote work long term:

4. Web 2.0 – Briefly explained 

We are strongly within the web 2.0 realm now; user-generated content. Gone are the days where the web could only give you information but with no interaction. Web 2.0 refers to the ease of access, the abilities to collaborate, share and interact with information. Now, web 2.0 has evolved so much it is a referred to as a  ‘social web’  

There are little people who do not use a device in their daily life, whether it’s a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Can you imagine a day without googling something like ‘who starred in the peaky blinders’ after you’ve just binge watched an entire season? Or then writing a status about it on your socials?  

The development of Web 2.0 has highlighted even more so why we need to adapt and participate; to reap the benefits. 

5. Industry 4.0 – Not just relevant to the Manufacturing Industry 

You may think:

“I have no idea what Industry 4.0 means.. but I don’t need to, I work in accounts?!”

But Industry 4.0 affects EVERYONE. Let’s explain… 

Looking at the 4 stages of the industrial revolution:  

Stage 1 –  Mechanism, Steam and Water Power 

Stage 2 –  Mass production lines and Electricity 

Stage 3 – Electronics, IT Systems, Automation and Robotics 

Stage 4 – SMART factory, AI, Real time data, and Machine learning 

The industry, manufacturing and construction are core parts of what keeps the world running. Without these sectors.. We wouldn’t have anything. The houses we live in, the bed’s we sleep on. The clothes we we wear and the foods we eat. Whether you are in HR, you work for the NHS, you’re a teacher or an Artist. All sectors of life REQUIRE the manufacturing and construction industry.  

Industry 4.0 is in progress, but we DESPERATELY need change to be embraced and encourage this stage as it moulds the future of everything as we know it.  

6. CASE STUDY – Toys R Us Collapse  

An entertainment giant in it’s day, but even the largest companies could fall into administration.. (Looking at the current news of Arcadia Group, who owns TopShop) 

“Toys R Us has failed to innovate its business model, incorporate technology or adapt to changing consumer behavior” * 

In short, the large company made mistakes which only lived to serve lessons to others of what NOT to do. But many people can agree that their resistance to adapt to trends and behaviors resulted in an outcome that nobody wants. Thousands of jobs lost, 100’s of store closures. Which all could have been prevented.. 

7. The technology adoption cycle 

12 reasons why we desperately need change

The new business disruptors are adapting to technology straight away, which is creating a GAP between the already existing businesses that are quite slow with jumping on the tech bandwagon.  

This ‘GAP’ which continues to increase the more innovating technology emerges, is only creating heavier competition… where eventually there will be no competition; the new disruptors are well ahead of the game and customers automatically steer to them. Leaving the businesses falling behind, non existent.  

Don’t be another case study… 

8. The ‘Resistant to Change’  

We all know this category of people can be a hurdle, whether you are one of them or whether you work with them. But how to we combat this resistance? 

From a workplace MD/CEO point of view; it’s all about change management. There are ways to approach the tech adoption subject to those more tricky employee’s… But you can speak to a specialist to get resources and advice! (Cough* HanaTech Cough*) 

If YOU fall into that resistance for reasons such as..  

  • You don’t trust new tech.. It can fail 
  • You don’t know where to start to understand, all seems too complicated 
  • Ignorance 

There are many resources out there and examples of successful technology that are around your daily life that you don’t even notice.. And we trust them everyday. If you don’t understand, or know where to start then again.. Ask for help! There are business consultants out there (Cough* HanaTech Cough*) who are here to help you! 

And if you are the latter.. Unfortunately there isn’t a special potion for the ignorant, sorry. 

9. Who doesn’t want an easier life?! 

Technology has made so many parts of our lives much more easy, efficient and time saving.  

Things such as communication, payments, consumerism, information intake, knowledge and so much more has been made a breeze. We will go into innovations around us in day 11 but see here for 6 ways on how technology has made our lives easier:

10. The world is changing, whether you like it or not.  

The reality is, everything is becoming much more digital; even if you’re not a fan of it. But you can’t deny technology’s abilities and we desperately need change to continue to survive; how far we have come in such a short space of time is already rather impressive…  

The World

See this cool illustrated video for the evolution of tech – 

 From using a typewriter or hand writing letter to sending an email with the click of a button. Although, got to give it to the typewriter that it’s still pleasing to watch. 

11. The modern day ‘swiss army knife’  

In the 70’s, you probably wouldn’t leave your house without these 3 things: Your house key, some pocket change, and a casette player. Now, most of us don’t leave without our mobile phones.  

Mobile phones have become the swiss army knife; you can pretty much do anything on it from payments, to communication, to consumerism to even controlling the lights in your homes.  

A mobile phone is the necessity item that people carry around even over cash.  

So, from a business owner or marketing point of view, its VITAL to analyse behaviours; this is how you place your business in the competition.  

12. CHANGE is inevitable, so you may as well embrace it to overcome it 

Lastly, from a personal point of view, many people struggle with change in life, which is a completely normal process, but it doesn’t always have to be confusing and intense. Change is always going to happen, as this means moving forwards and progressing. If we all embrace it and become more open minded it benefits in the long run, making the change transition much easier to flow without any resistance. Why give yourself more unnecessary weight?  

We hope you enjoyed reading our 12 REASONS why we desperately need change … Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post…