CERAM will continue to provide its unique combination of specialised facilities and technical and production consultancy expertise to Swedish retail giant IKEA as CERAM has been confirmed as IKEA’s preferred consultant for ceramic product sourcing around the globe.
IKEA currently purchases large quantities of stoneware, earthenware and porcelain for sale in its 200+ stores and is planning expansion in the coming years. It places heavy demands on its suppliers, particularly in terms of quality, price and delivery performance, but at the same time it is willing to provide substantial financial support to help suppliers meet its expectations.
CERAM, the internationally renowned centre for materials and technology, based in Stoke-on-Trent, has already played a key role in supporting major investments which have been made over the last two years in capital projects for factory build and expansion, manufacturing consultancy, staff training, new product introduction and product conformance testing.
It is such role diversity that has resulted in CERAM cementing its position as IKEA’s favoured consultant.
Jan Andersson, Ceramics Quality Manager of IKEA commented: “By choosing CERAM as our preferred consultant, IKEA has the advantage of having just one contact that can offer a wide variety of competences, including both skilled technical field personnel and R&D testing capability.”
“We also see the access to CERAM’s vast network of companies working in the ceramic field as a major advantage.”
During 2004 CERAM supported IKEA with the installation of equipment and run-up to full production of a new stoneware factory in Turkey, and this is just one of the projects that will continue throughout 2005 as additional equipment is installed to increase the capacity of this plant.
Graham Small, manager of CERAM Consulting Group commented; “CERAM will continue to help in a number of other areas including assisting with a new technical programme to develop new colours in a porcelain supplier factory in the Far East, as well as working with several factories to improve efficiency and reduce wastage of materials, labour, energy and time. This is part of IKEA’s constant requirement to reduce costs in order to offer high value for money in its stores.”
IKEA’s very high standards are adhered to through superior quality control systems and product and conformance testing and CERAM has played a pivotal role in helping suppliers achieve these, including developing and installing quality systems in their factories and training workers to operate them in a consistent manner. CERAM has specialist testing facilities and personnel at its UK headquarters and at its Approved Test Laboratories in Thailand, Malaysia and China, and they have regularly been examining IKEA’s products to ensure that they conform to international standards.
Graham Small added: “Technical experts from CERAM are frequently called upon to solve manufacturing problems, for example high levels of loss due to colour variation, glaze defects, product cracking etc., as well as providing practical sessions for production supervisors and staff. We also provide training for IKEA purchasing and technical support staff, giving them a good insight into the problems and issues facing their suppliers.”