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Sue Witkowski

What could happen to your business when a disaster strikes?

Author: Sue Witkowski, Marketing services manager

3rd Sep 2013

Over the past few months I have been part of an in-house team looking at our ability to get the company back up to speed in the case of a disaster.

We have always had a plan, but we thought that a re-visit couldn’t hurt and wanted to concentrate on business continuity rather than just disaster recovery.

This type of project really makes you think carefully about how the company operates, especially the reliance on IT systems. You also need to be confident that you can continue to service your customers, pay your suppliers and pay your staff.

This was certainly a well-worth project. We’ve looked at the risks and made sure that we have back-up across Europe and a business continuity plan that will work.

I am always keen to pass on good ideas so have put together a few useful pointers on how to go about putting a plan together.

How to start a business continuity project?

First steps are to think about the possible disasters that could happen and analyse the risk to the company.

Not every disaster will impact every area of a business, so this is an important first step to ensure that the recovery plans are appropriate.

For example, consider these possible events; each one will need a different planned response:
• damage to the computing and network resource
• bad weather stopping the supply chain
• a ‘flu outbreak amongst your staff
• flood damage to stock
• power outage
• major disruption to site access

Once you have identified the likely risks you can start to plan appropriately to manage any crisis before it becomes a disaster. This is the essence of ‘business continuity’ rather than just disaster recovery.

Assess the impact

• possible incidents & outcomes
• probability rating
• potential impact level

Develop the plan

• immediate aftermath
• which critical functions need to be resumed & in what order
• identify key individuals & duties – ‘who does what’
• customers – make sure that you have a contact list, know what you will be telling them and who will be making the communication.
• don't forget suppliers
• involve your security company and fire service
• make reciprocal arrangements with other local companies

Test the plan

• this could be a desk test or something more extensive
• audit the plan regularly


• staff training
• documentation

Maintaining the plan

• assign someone to be responsible

Business continuity checklist

• Business continuity project manager’s name and contact details
• Team that will make the key decisions
• Contact details to enable the team to be brought together
• Nominated control centre as a meeting point
• Identification of business critical processes and the resources required to continue them
• General resource requirements, for example IT hardware and software, telecommunications
• Details of how a recovery would be phased
• Telephone divert arrangements
• Emergency contact number for employees to obtain the latest information
• Contacts for internal and external agencies who may support the recovery
• Utility supplier details
• Address of the recovery site
• Contents and storage location of a disaster pack
• List of key customers, suppliers, third parties and their contact details
• Comprehensive team cascade list
• Backup computer data and any critical paper records held off-site
• Network diagrams, building plans and other technical information
• Precautions to be taken in the event of an incident, for example, staff evacuation

There are lots of resources available, such as your local Fire Services, Chamber of Commerce or insurance company. If you are located on a business park you may find that there is an association or management firm that can help.

Let’s hope we never need to test it for real.

Sue Witkowski

Drawer slides – DIY projects for your own home

Author: Sue Witkowski, Marketing services manager

23rd Jul 2013

Usually our drawer slides are sold into large projects – sometimes into cabinetry and sometimes into industrial applications.

But occasionally we hear about some DIY projects completed in the homes of our business customers.

We think that this is really cool; they obviously like our products well enough to bring them into their own homes. This is a pretty good endorsement for Accuride drawer slides.

Pawel works as Quality Manager at Van Keulen, which is a shop fitter.

The company had been using our DZ2132 drawer runners for many years and, when he wanted to install drawers in his own home, he turned to the same slide.

Pawel is obviously a clever cabinet maker and made this unique bank of storage drawers himself.

I’m not sure that child storage drawers is an interior design trend that we encourage (and we do say that slides should not be used to support human weight), but we’ll allow this one exception because the baby is so cute - and Pawel was there to keep an eye on her.

The second DIY project is a sliding wardrobe door that has been neatly fitted beneath the slope of the roof to use as much storage space as possible.

The DZ3630 two-way-travel slide has been used by Ray Fisher, sales director at Häfele UK, Accuride’s exclusive cabinet hardware distributor in the UK.

The wardrobe project was for his daughter and it was therefore very important that he got this absolutely perfect.

Peter Baxter

Why manufacturers should love their distribution partners

Author: Peter Baxter, European sales director, distribution channel

27th Jun 2013

One of the reasons why Accuride has been such a successful company is the continuing strong relationship with our distribution partners.

This sales strategy has allowed us to concentrate on our core business of the innovative design of ball bearing slides and sliding systems.

Our direct sales to OEMs mainly take the form of bespoke, long term projects and so we rely on our distributors to take on the responsibility to service our growing customer base with the off-the-shelf products.

Building a strong and long term relationship with each distributor has been our aim. Accuride sales managers operate in every region across Europe to support and train the distribution network. This front line support has strong and effective backup from Accuride’s customer service group, quality management systems and marketing services.

Why sell through a distribution channel?

Distributors can often offer a better service. The quick delivery of slides to a large number of companies is something that Accuride would find difficult to support. Add to that the sales, technical and logistic support that distributors can offer and it starts to become obvious why major manufacturers take this route to market.

Also, we can’t be everywhere, but the distributor can be. This is important for our customers who need our products fast and can talk to someone locally. Our slides are where they need to be – at a local distributor’s warehouse.

In 1998 I was tasked with developing a Europe-wide distribution network. We already had a successful network in North America and I wanted to make sure that Europe did not fall behind. I can honestly say that this has been one of the most successful sales strategies that we have ever implemented.

Today, the distribution network has grown rapidly to cover both cabinet hardware and industrial/electronics industries with coverage across all of Europe and into South Africa and the Middle East.

Getting the right manufacturer/distributor mix

Choosing the correct distributor has been the main formula for success. Close relationships have been nurtured by the regional sales managers to maintain long term and profitable business.

Häfele is one of the leading international companies for furniture fittings, architectural hardware, electronic locking systems and technical hardware advice. They have been on board as Accuride’s UK cabinet hardware distributor since the beginning.

Their UK sales director, Ray Fisher, says, ‘We all want to be at the top of our game and Häfele’s close relationship with Accuride has been built on shared aims; to be the best in the business. Not just the best for us, but also for our customers. It’s been a winning recipe for everyone.’

Accuride’s future is now closely bound to the distribution channel. Specialist distributors in new regions and markets are constantly sought to ensure that we have the best coverage and local support possible.

Jim Armstrong

Keeping innovation alive to drive growth

Author: Jim Armstrong, European sales director, OEM channel

3rd Jun 2013

Growing a business during a period of deep global recession has its difficulties. Loss of markets and lack of investment have brought some major brands down, especially in the retail sector.

Cutting costs alone won’t save you. Identifying innovation is not easy and finding additional funding even more difficult. Yet successful companies must possess the agility to allow their organisation to rapidly and efficiently adapt to changes.

So what is to be done?

Investing (time or money) in research and development is difficult to justify during these difficult times. And yet what better way to drive growth?

How do companies build a culture of innovation?

So what do we mean by ‘innovation’? Here, I’m talking about translating ideas into new products, services or processes. All it means is coming up with something new and better than before that has the capacity to be commercial.

Most companies are innovative when they start out, but day to day problems often make them defensive and the focus starts to move towards maintaining the status quo rather than looking at new ideas or new demands

We need to create the time and resources within an organization to allow staff to really innovate - and we must not be afraid of failure, but we should learn from it.

Let staff know what is going on – what the company wants to do and encourage an exchange of ideas; communication is vital. Look for ideas from inside and outside the company. If staff really understand the WHY of the organization, they will be involved, immersed and passionate; all staff attributes that stimulate innovation.

We may work on many projects and not all of them are successful. However, knowing when to ditch an idea can be just as important as recognising when to back a winner.

Things are not always perfect first time round. Sometimes it is better to get something started and moved on rather than spend time refining and perfecting, but essentially never getting the project finished. The service or product can be improved over time for incremental gains. This has the advantage of showing customers that you are improving your offer and gives you something to talk about.

Your staff are of prime importance is this process. Understanding where their strengths and abilities to innovate lie will help you to structure innovation groups. Some people prefer research, others think big; not everyone is the same.

Innovation is not always easy when you are concentrating on the job in hand

Obviously you know your own product or service and which target markets you are focussing on. But by keeping an eye on trends, not just in your own markets, you will see how the world is changing and how your company can fit in, and make money from it. Changes in social trends, laws, progress in materials and technology can all have an impact on how you deliver your products or services.
If you are focussed on innovating new products then find the gaps in your offer and fill them. Don’t be afraid to look back over old products and see if they can be resurrected with some modifications.
Keeping up to date with new materials and technology and marrying them with new trends will also help to fill the product funnel with ideas.

All of this takes time to research and so time becomes one of the most important resources needed if you are serious about being an innovative company.

My conclusion

Investment in R&D is difficult when money is tight, and time is money. Many companies cut this area during a recession without thinking of the long term consequences.

The generation of ideas for new or improved products, services or processes will help companies to succeed and create an atmosphere within the organization to encourage new thinking and keep innovation alive.

Sue Witkowski

Waste prevention and reduction

Author: Sue Witkowski, Marketing services manager

21st May 2013

The environment has long been a priority for Accuride and over the years we've continued to implement practices to ensure that when we take care of business, we also take care of the environment.

There are a number of things Accuride does to be environmentally conscious. Some actions are small, while others are major changes in manufacturing processes, such as the revisions made to our plating process.

However, it is not a destination or state of being, it’s a continual process to reduce, reuse and recycle.

There are a number of things Accuride does to be environmentally conscious, ranging from using natural light in our factories, to recycling all scrap metal, to reducing packaging.

RoHS compliance

Plating requires chemicals, water, and energy. Our engineering staff aggressively seek methods to reduce usage of all three. Products in compliance with the RoHS Directive are manufactured and comprised of components that meet restricted levels of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium (Cr6), PBB, and PBDE.

To meet this requirement, Accuride changed the plating process from Hexavalent to Trivalent chromium, which is much less hazardous. In addition, all slide components such as bumpers and plastic housings used in the manufacture of our slides are compliant.

Read our RoHS compliance statement.

Energy reduction

In Accuride’s Mexicali plant, the engineering staff was tasked with reducing normal equipment shutdowns on our plating machines. A shutdown, for any given reason, means the machinery is still running, but not producing product. This results in wasted energy in the form of natural gas and electricity. After careful analysis and process improvements, the engineering staff’s efforts paid off, with a one-third reduction in the number of machines required to produce the same amount of product. Not only does this make good business sense, it’s a more responsible use of resources.

Water consumption and treatment

We treat all process water to neutralize or minimize harmful components. Accuride uses high-tech polymers to trap or encapsulate the harmful components in the sludge after treatment.

Used rags are cleaned to remove oil and other residues and are reused multiple times. When discarded, they are cleaned one last time and disposed of according to environmental requirements.

Accuride actively seeks methods to reduce water consumption during the manufacturing process. In fact, ongoing efforts in the Mexicali plant have resulted in a 33% reduction of the water volume used in the electroplating process. Flow restrictor systems are used to carefully control the amount of water used by the plating machines.


Accuride’s distribution warehouse in the UK stocks well over 1,000 part numbers ready for shipment to our distribution network across Europe.

When bringing a new product to the market, our design engineers work closely with the purchasing department to design and specify packaging that will protect the product while using as little material as possible.

We have been looking carefully at how existing products are packaged in our global manufacturing plants and have reduced box sizes across many of the ranges.

In many instances we have been able to restrict the weight of each filled carton to under 15 kg, and sometimes 10 kg, without the need to fill large gaps with a lot of throw away packaging materials. The filled cartons become more stable with less air inside. Reducing the weight of each carton also reduces the need to use warning stickers and impacts on transport costs.

This is an on-going project that aims to reduce packaging and use recyclable materials wherever possible.

Environmental Standards - ISO 14001

Accuride’s plant in Germany is certified to the ISO 14001 Environmental Standard. This certification is achieved through adherence to a comprehensive set of standards for environmental management practices. Certification requires evaluation by a third-party auditor.

As with all standards, ISO14001 requires formal documentation relating to the company’s environmental policy, as well as record keeping that demonstrates the company is operating according to the requirements of the standard.

The Mexicali, Mexico plant has an established program that adheres to the ISO 14001 standards and policies. An internal team performs audits on a regular basis.

Turn the lights off

Sometimes the smallest actions can have an impact. Staff members are encouraged to take individual responsibility to reduce or prevent waste. For example, not leaving the computer on stand-by all night, turning the lights off when leaving a room or separating office waste and putting it in the correct refuse bins. We can all make a difference if we try.

Accuride strives to have as little negative effect on the environment as possible. Our environmental policy includes a commitment to adhering to local environmental laws, exceeding the standards whenever practical, using raw materials efficiently, and reducing waste.


Planning to buy, install or use a drawer slide?
Our 'What.How.When' guide to ball bearing slides is everything you need.

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