Richard Wheeler, among many other things
Since 2001, Richard Wheeler has been responsible for running the production team at Integrated Design Limited (IDL). Known for reliability and architecturally inspired design, manufacturing Fastlane turnstiles and Door Detective entrance control products requires a keen eye for detail.
Below, Richard – Production Team Manager – shares insight into some of the processes which ensure IDL’s customers receive the high-quality products they’ve come to expect, every time, and highlights some of the projects he’s most enjoyed working on.
Can you tell us a bit about your team and what you’re responsible for?
We have a portfolio of over 40 products, comprising entrance control systems and complementary software applications such as Fastlane Connect. I manage the production team, all predominantly factory-based in Feltham, and we build every single Fastlane and Door Detective product that gets sent out around the world. We’ve had our products installed in six continents in some of the world’s most iconic buildings, including the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and the new World Trade Centre Complex in NYC, so there’s never a dull moment.
Over the years, demand for Fastlane and Door Detective products has increased, driven by the changing security landscape and our reputation for reliability, so the IDL team has grown and we’ve moved buildings to support that growth. What has remained constant, however, is our focus on delivering quality, British-made products. We’re really proud to still be able to say that Fastlane turnstiles are a fully British product, from the design stages all the way though to my team in manufacturing.
This allows us to keep a close eye on each and every product that leaves the facility, ensuring our customers receive high quality products every time they place an order. If someone places an order today, they can expect all of the units to look and function the same. If that same customer places an order a year later, they can expect the same quality in terms of function and style. With such premium products, our customers expect the best and everyone at IDL works together to ensure we deliver on that promise.
What’s the standard process from order to delivery?
It all starts with our sales team. They work closely with a prospective customer to really understand their particular needs. During this initial phase, the technical team is briefed by the sales team and they translate a customer’s vision into a technical drawing. This is shared with the customer and, once signed off and a PO is raised, the production team is alerted. Parts are then allocated and assembled by my team on our shop floor in Feltham. Every assembled product is checked by a second person, then comes the extensive SOAK testing – of individual components and the complete project set – to ensure that each product will stand up to a very high volume of usage. Once I am satisfied, I give final sign off and we hand over to logistics for shipping.
This is, of course, a very simplified version of the process. What’s important is that we’re all based on one site. We spend a lot of time collaborating with other departments, especially the technical team, as sometimes a technical drawing will be produced which may, at first, not seem do-able. Instead of just saying no, we work closely to find a suitable workable solution which delivers on the client’s brief. The fact that we are all based on one site helps this process as we’re able to work quicker to find a solution.
Diligence and proven processes are also vital when manufacturing quality products, consistently. Stephen Keeping, our HSEQ Manager, designs the quality control processes and ensures that everything we do is according to health and safety best practice, but every individual in each team is responsible for quality control at various stages. The sales team need to ensure their understanding of a client’s requirement is accurate, the technical team need to devise solutions which satisfy both the client and ensure my team can bring that vision to life, and the logistics crew need to use the best packaging and shipping methods to make sure the end product arrives in perfect condition. Anyone who touches any part of this process is responsible for their own quality control, and it’s this team effort which ensures great customer service and a quality product every time.
What’s been your favourite customisation to work on?
I’ve worked on so many great bespoke products, but one of my favourites involved producing customised Glasswing units for The Aldar HQ Building in Abu Dhabi. Not only is the Glasswing my preferred product to manufacture – and they look particularly striking in the Aldar HQ building – but the integrated lift destination controls ensure that use of the lifts is more time efficient and saves energy.
Back in 2006, integrating lift destination displays into our turnstiles, such as the ones used at The Aldar HQ, was deemed cutting-edge. Now, this seamless integration is a pretty standard request from our clients, particularly those operating in corporate environments, and especially in the US market. Yet, some of our competitors are only just offering this integration. We’re lucky that our technical team has their finger on the pulse when it comes to responding to developments in the security market and client needs, and we’ve got a skilled production team that can make these integrations seamless.
What do you love about the Glasswing model?
The Glasswing looks great and, unlike the other turnstiles in the Speedgates range, the glass barriers retract inside the pedestal which gives it a particularly sleek appearance. This is one of the reasons it’s been used to secure so many high profile sites, such as ORPEA’s Parisian headquarters, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London and the University of Birmingham’s new library.
Around 75% of the products we manufacture have some level of customisation, whether that’s driven by an aesthetic or functional need, and the Glasswing is available in a range of bespoke finishes – from natural stone, wood, granite or Nero Assoluto tops. This is another reason it’s a popular choice with those wanting an entrance control turnstile which reflects their particular environment.
One final question, if you weren’t managing the IDL production team, what would you be doing?
That’s the easiest question to answer so far – brewing my own beer!