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January 2008 | New Northampton Signs Website On-Line

In readiness for 2008, we have launched our new website.  Re-designed in-house by our Design Manager, Jonathan Hughes, we hope it will be an interesting reference point for our new and existing customers alike. If you would like to get in touch, please go to our contact page.  In the meantime, add the site to your ‘favourites’ and keep checking back for updates.

September 2007 | Portman to Nationwide Re-Brand

We recently assisted in completing the re-brand of the Portman Building Society to the Nationwide Building Society brand.  The projected included the special treatment of several heritage sites, which we undertook through detailed communication with local planners.

January / February 2008 | NOKIA to Mobile Phones Direct Re-Brand

We are currently undertaking the re-brand of several NOKIA stores to Mobile Phones Direct.  This is developing our expertise in the retail communications sector yet further, as we already undertake work for NOKIA, and are the sole supplier of signage to Phones 4u.

February 2008 | St. Andrew's Healthcare Northampton

Following a six month design and development programme led by our Design Manager, Jonathan Hughes, Northampton Signs have recently won the tender to provide an external wayfinding system to St. Andrew's Hospital. As the UK's leading independent provider of specialist mental health care, their estate is continually evolving in terms of new facilities. We have specified a flexible, modular system which can be adapted over the coming years to suit the development and expansion of the site.

"The signage installation was effortless and your workers were praised by Stoneforce [shop fitting contractor].  The overall effect [of the signage scheme] is awesome. Many thanks again for all your hard work."

Natalie Snell, Project Manager.

To view the Eden Shopping centre website click here.

March 2008 | TOPSHOP, TOPMAN & Muse Stores - High Wycombe - Arcadia Group
We have recently completed signage installations for these stores within the brand new Eden shopping centre in High Wycombe. The Arcadia Group continue to be impressed with the high quality work we produce;
April 2008 | TOPSHOP, TOPMAN & Wallis Stores - Cambridge - Arcadia Group

In conjunction with the opening of the new Grand Arcade in Cambridge, we have recently completed a very successful design, manufacture and installation programme for these stores.

April 2008 | Northampton Signs Extend Digital Print Department

We have recently extended our digital print department to accommodate a new HP8000 solvent printer. Housed in newly built, filter controlled room, this exciting new piece of equipment allows us to print on a much wider array of roll medium, such as class 'O' fire retardant materials. This is particularly useful as we undertake a lot of airport projects for clients such as The Restaurant Group and SSP, where class 'O' materials are a mandatory requirement for wallpapers and printed graphics. Richard Dazeley, Northampton Signs Print Manager comments: "Working alongside our existing HP inkjet printers, the new solvent printer greatly increases our quality and output capacity."

May 2008 | Manufacturing Staff Complete NVQ Qualification

Many of our manufacturing based staff have recently completed the NVQ L2 Sign Making Course. As well as aiding personal development, the skills gained from the course will help our staff improve the quality of our products yet further.

June 2008 | Dorothy Perkins and Burton High Wycombe - Arcadia Group
Continuing our work for the Arcadia Group, we have recently completed the signage installation for the Dorothy Perkins and Burton dual site in High Wycombe. This is our third project for the new Eden shopping centre development in the town. The store looks very impressive with it full height glass frontage complete with internally illuminated 'floating letter' signage marking out the brands. Large format digitally printed supporting graphics help make the most of the impact this corner plot has within the centre.

Natalie Snell, Arcadia Project Manager comments:

"Thank you all for your time and commitment to complete BR / DP High Wycombe. The store looks fantastic and the Brands have expressed their gratitude and appreciation for a great new store."

June 2008 | St. Andrew's Healthcare Essex

Following our recent installation of a comprehensive wayfinding system at the Northampton site, we are now undertaking a similar project at St. Andrew's Healthcare's site in Essex.

July 2008 | Abbey Charity Carting Event for Great Ormond Street Hospital

Several members from Northampton Signs were involved in a one day event at Daytona Kart track in Milton Keynes.

It was all in need of a fund raising event for Great Ormond Street Hospital, to help the charity reach their yearly £50 million target. This keeps the hospital at the forefront of worldwide paediatric medicine.

A total of 30 companies were taking part in this event. Northampton Signs was given the task to design and manufacture the pit boards for each participating team, this was to display their encouraging messages for their fellow team mates!

Before the race commenced all participants attended a race briefing to highlight the safety of racing and the track itself.

A total of £20,000 was raised on the day from sponsors and an auction was held after the race. Auctioned items included a Lanzarote Apartment, Morgan sports car for the weekend and a signed Lewis Hamilton T-shirt.

December 2008 | Berrywood Hospital - Phase 1

Berrywood Hospital will provide fully integrated, modern hospital facilities for adults and older people with mental health problems.

The 35 million pound new hospital will see the end of old-fashioned dormitory wards and a big emphasis on patient facilities. When complete, the new complex will provide 135 beds in single en-suite rooms, along with group therapy rooms, an academic library and other facilities, all set in landscaped gardens.

It will have many innovative features, including curved internal walls and conservatories at the end of bedroom clusters, making the most of natural light and ventilation.

Northampton Signs was selected to consult, design, manufacture and install the way-finding system for this new facility.  Working closely with Balfour Beatty and the NHS, as well as using previous experience on Healthcare projects, our Design and Sales team devised a modular signage system that would meet the stringent requirements for this type of project.

The signage elements were designed to avoid ligature points and be tamper resistant.   They also needed to harmonise the with domestic environment theme that forms major part of the project’s internal look and feel.  Here, Coastal themed visuals ‘softened’ the signage as well as forming part of the visual way-finding system.  Large format, digitally printed artwork was applied to walls in core areas to emphasise the coastal theme.  As part of our remit, Northampton Signs also provided the emergency escape route signs, fire action signs and room/area identification discs.

Following design sign-off, the project was closely managed on site by our Project Management and Installation Teams to ensure the tight deadlines were successfully met.  Both the client, Balfour Beatty, and the NHS were very happy with the productive involvement, which ensured this element of the overall project ran smoothly.  We are looking forward to more projects with both as and when required.


Paul Nesbitt | Senior Project Manager, Balfour Beatty Construction

Northampton Signs provided all of the signs for Phase 1 of this large project.  I was particularly impressed with the quality and detail of the package, which came about as a result of detailed planning and consultation with their staff.  I feel we were given excellent service and look forward to working with them through Phase 2, and on future projects.”

August 2008 | Northampton Signs & KTP Partnership

As part of our aim to become the sign manufacturer of choice in the UK we decided to go into a partnership programme with the University of Northampton in 2006. The programme called Knowledge Transfer Partnership, KTP is partly funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, DTI now BERR.

KTP is a three way partnership between a higher educational institute, an industrial partner and an Associate usually contracted for 2 years. The educational institute is the University and we are the industrial partner and we employed an associate in August 2008.

There are benefits to all parties involved, the industrial partner gains an experienced or recent graduate to help improve or introduce technologies or systems. The Associate gains to opportunity to work with top management and do a funded masters level qualification and additional training. The university gains the opportunity to transfer what was learnt on the project into student learning materials and a research paper written by the Associate.

Our stated purpose for the KTP programme was to research and develop methodologies that would aid continuous improvement and cultural change within our organisation. This will be achieved by introducing new systems, process realignment, streamlining working processes, investigating and evaluating new machinery with aim to purchase.

Our Associate, Olu Osanyingbemi (pictured, top right) assumed the role of a change agent, looking into our operational activities and introducing methods to improve them. He is a mechanical engineering graduate with prior consultancy experience in the FMCG sector.

He has been supported by John Cooper, Mike Stonnell and Dr Mills, all senior lecturers and experts in Manufacturing, Design and Corrosion at respectively at the University of Northampton.

March 2009 | Northampton Signs & KTP Partnership - UPDATE

KTP progress!

Just to update you on how we are doing.

As mentioned in the previous article, the main aim of this project is to help change the culture of the organisation from standard old practices to a continuous improvement type culture. Olu has championed the Lean programme using tools and management models such as 5S and Total Quality Management.

To improve, we needed to understand our current state, Olu introduced measurement systems & KPI’s using the six sigma methodology and integrating this with our new quality systems called NSQC – Northampton Signs Quality Control.
Olu and the managers in the business have been able to influence our staff even though it’s been hard, they have been successful at it, you only need to walk around to notice.

To facilitate improvement we needed to visualise our processes, so we embarked on a process mapping activity mapping out our current state. We have addressed some issues, implemented temporary solutions and changed some processes.
To standardise these process and promote culture change we have also invested time and money into the ISO 9001:2000 certification process. We have documented all our processes and will be looking to achieve certification by 2009.

We know that to facilitate improvement you may need to invest in technology and machinery. Following factory observations, suggestions from our employees and our own business reviews we have invested in some equipment that we believe will help drive up our efficiency.

We are looking for ways to improve across the board, so we have also recently employed the help of two highly experienced signage people in Jon Brook and Steve Newman. They have been of tremendous help in shaping our daily operational activities to match our strategy and have contributed enormously to the success of this programme, pointing Olu in the right directions.

As we also realise that the use of energy and the environment are important issues we have recently set up a team called SWEAT, the Special Waste and Environmental Action Team. They are tasked with looking at ways of reducing our energy and waste costs, hence reducing also our carbon footprints. Through this we have joined the Carbon Trust and should be inviting them for an energy review soon.

We have also used the opportunity offered by this programme to send Olu to exhibitions abroad. We are looking forward to benefiting from his findings, as some new technologies, ideas and materials are being brought to our attention.

We have exceeded the targets set in our initial report for this partnership and we are glad we are involved. The aim is continuous improvement; hence we still have a lot more that we can do, so we will soldier on!

We are also sure Olu has gained a lot he said “it’s being a great experience working with the top management here, some days are good some not so good- that’s what you experience when your aim is to change cultures 20, 30 years in existence. However the net effect so far has been good, it must be worth it”!

The university supervisors said “He has been able to develop a clear working structure and is working to creating an environment to implement a Total Quality Management strategy….His work on lean implementation has been realized in significant culture change within the organisation. The response to quality issues is different, workplace management has improved and measurements recently introduced have helped everyone focus on accountability.

January 2009 | Northampton Signs Invest in New CNC Router

We believe continuous investment drives quality service and product delivery to our Customers and even in global economic recession, we are able to maintain our commitment to this, because we know there is always an upturn. With a strong financial base, we invest now in the future and spend time training our people to even raise the bar higher above the rest at the upturn. That’s why we have again invested in a new CNC machine with Automatic tooling and ArtCAM 3D simulation and design software from TEKCEL and DELCAM.  

This new Router will enhance our CNC capabilities in metal and plastic fabrication and it enables us to offer our customers a wider range of materials for their signage requirements and process more efficiently composite materials such as Dibond - a special composite material made from thin aluminium surfaces with plastic inside.
 
With our new all round servo driven CNC Router – our product quality and speed of response to your needs just got even better!
September 2008 | Sundial Group - Highgate House Wayfinding Project

Northampton Signs was asked to consult on the best approach to modernise their way finding signage, requiring a system that was clear to navigate as well as projecting a more modern, forward looking image. Following several design and prototyping sessions, the final look of the scheme was agreed and then rolled out across the site’s grounds.

As this particular site is quite challenging to navigate, priority was given to make it easier for new customers to find their way to the various bedroom zones. This was achieved using colour coding and orientated site plans strategically placed around the site, our client was impressed with the quality and smoothness of our installation and a customer survey carried out following the installation of the scheme has shown that the new system is working very well. Overall out client was very happy with our great price and excellent service in what was a tight timescale.

James Bland, Group Marketing Manager, comments:

“Northampton Signs have supplied signage solutions to Highgate House, and Sundial Group, for 15 years and we remain happy with the quality of their work, the value for money they offer and the consultative approach they take. Their input and experience was invaluable to our recent way-finding project, and we are sure they will continue to support us for many years to come.”

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February 2009 | Ricoh Corporate Re-Brand

Northampton Signs had provided signage for NRG for several years. Following it’s acquisition by global IT company Ricoh, we were invited to tender for the NRG to Ricoh signage re-brand.

Initially, using our project management expertise, we surveyed the six locations and produced a comprehensive set of signage proposals using their existing corporate branding guide lines as a template. Our quality signs, competitive prices and prompt service impressed Ricoh, enabling us to win the contract.

All of the locations had their existing signs removed and all new corporate branding installed over one bank holiday weekend. All stages of the cycle were closely managed to ensure the client’s project was delivered within the agreed price, on time and to the highest standards of quality and workmanship.

As a testament to our high level of customer service, quality and great value for money, we are continuing to help Ricoh with their other projects. We have had several more office complexes and showrooms to complete signage for as a result of this successful re-branding programme.

November 2008 | Expect Distribution Centre, Bradford

Northampton Signs were approached to design and manufacture signage for the new Expect Distribution Facility adjacent to the M606 in Bradford. This 100,000 sq ft centre stands on an 8 acre site and cost £9m. The client was looking for high quality and high visibility signage to the elevation over looking the motorway and on the front approach elevation.

NS were also commissioned to obtain all necessary planning approvals on the client’s behalf. With the site subjected to high winds, the signs had to be designed and fixed to withstand the strong gusts which blow on this high point. The signs needed to reflect the large size of the building and therefore the logos were 2.5m high and the text letters 1m high. These were all manufactured as flat cut powder coated aluminium which was securely fixed direct to the cladding.

Installation had to be completed before Christmas and was from a conventional static access scaffold; this work had to be carried out on calm days and was duly completed even with the cold temperatures experienced at the time. To successfully complete the project, NS also supplied all the necessary H&S signage and approach wayfinding signs.

July 2009 | Northampton Signs’ Quality Management System has been awarded ISO 9001:2008 certification.

Our dedication to a continuous improvement culture has taken another giant leap!

We are glad to announce to that Northampton Signs has been awarded ISO 9001:2008 certification following an assessment of our Quality Management System by an independent ISO 9001 certification body.

Our Group Managing Director, Simon Lowin said “we are proud of the service we provide and the way we conduct our business and this has been confirmed by an independent body used to judging quality standards on a daily basis”.
We had been operating a quality management system but recently decided to have this externally certified. We believe that this will reassure customers that even in these hard times we are committed to achieving the highest quality at all times.

Our Associate, Olu Osanyingbemi led our camp meticulously, being a certified quality systems manager; he delivered training on appreciation of the standard and facilitated the development of our system to the appropriate standard. One of our managers, Paul York was also sent on an IRCA approved internal auditor training.

We approached various certification bodies but decided to develop and implement the system to ISO 9001 standard ourselves as opposed to employing outside help/consultancy for 30 days as generally advertised.

Our approach to obtaining ISO 9001:2008 certification is evidence of our dedication to quality and continuous improvement in all areas – people, service and product.

ISO 9001 is supported by the government and recognised world-wide and to us it’s not just a paper on the wall, in fact that’s a bonus! Our aim was to use it as a driver for continuous improvement by integrating the standard with our current methods and making adaptations where necessary.

We’ll like to thank all members of staff who helped achieve this and for further information, please contact us on info@northamptonsigns.co.uk

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