Forging his own path

Engineer Azri Kamil was attracted to Smiths Detection by the many opportunities to learn and progress his career

Azri Kamil is a very ambitious Senior Manufacturing Engineer based at the Smiths Detection facility in Johor, southern Malaysia. He recently led his team to Silver in an annual APAC-wide Lean Competition which runs across all five Divisions of the Smiths Group plc. to encourage and reward continuous improvement.

“One of the key reasons I was attracted to Smiths Detection was the fact that it’s part of a global group of diverse engineering businesses which could offer me great opportunities to explore new possibilities and grow a career. The Lean Competition is just one example of how the organisation actively supports and encourages staff.”

Tackling new challenges

With a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and several years’ experience under his belt, Azri joined Smiths Detection in 2015 as a Manufacturing Engineer assigned to X-ray generators. This was a completely new topic for Azri and it took a year or two to learn everything from the ground up and fully understand the products. Once he had a firm knowledge base, Azri was soon ready to put forward proposals for introducing efficiencies.

“In 2018 I worked on a project in conjunction with our Wiesbaden facility in Germany to create mixed model production lines for X-ray generators. Previously the four existing lines handled one model each and had individual stations. Creating mixed lines was a chance to make improvements, maximise space and minimise the number of operators. The company welcomes new ideas and successful results from the mixed lines project certainly helped me achieve promotion to Senior Manufacturing Engineer.”

Keen to help everyone advance along their individual career paths, Smiths Detection offers an excellent range of training covering both technical and soft skills. To support his new role, one of the courses Azri took was a six month Leadership Development Programme aimed at helping senior staff become future leaders.

A Lean opportunity

Azri was quick in volunteering to handle an exciting new project when production of Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) consumables was transferred to from the USA to Johor. “This was an interesting project as once again, I was unfamiliar with the products. It also involved production from raw material to finished item and I was more accustomed to assembly. Setting up the process from the very beginning really challenged me but as always, I was given excellent support, particularly from the USA team.”

The improvements made to IMS consumables production went on to impress the judges in the APAC Lean Competition – the project was shortlisted for the final round with five others from different business divisions across the region and, of course, went on to win Silver.

“Originally, we were aiming to target two or three processes but as we progressed, were able to exploit additional opportunities for improvement. As a result, we achieved a 35% reduction in overall labour costs which equated to $98K in savings. Lead times were minimised, manual processes eliminated and movement of people cut by 50%. All this was achieved whilst maintaining 100% product quality with zero defects.”

Lean principles have been embedded throughout the business via the Smiths Excellence System (SES) which is designed to build operational and business process excellence by helping staff to work smarter and faster. The SES academy offers staff different levels of Lean Six Sigma training and the opportunity to earn different ‘belts’. Azri has already received a ‘Green Belt’ and is keen to progress further towards a ‘Black Belt’.

“My sights are also set on preparing for two new 2022 projects and beyond that, I would like to gain an MBA degree. I’m sure the company will support my endeavours and help me achieve my objectives. I am relishing my time here and looking forward to a long, interesting and successful career within the Group.”