Safe and warm
Baxi’s forward-looking attitude remains underpinned by a long history of high quality products and strong customer focus
With its roots firmly planted in 1866, Baxi is a company steeped in history and heritage, yet as it celebrates its 150th year of successful business the boiler manufacturer’s focus is trained unfalteringly towards the future. “Of course this is a good opportunity to reflect on our rich history and we are very proud of what the company has achieved in this time,” begins Paul Hardy, Managing Director of the UK-based firm. “However, we are careful not to become too nostalgic because our efforts are all about looking ahead at the next 150 years.”
A manufacturer of complete boiler systems to the global market, Baxi last spoke to Manufacturing Today Europe in June 2015 when Paul discussed the continued development of innovative products in line with increasing regulatory pressures. Nine months on and it is clear to see what progress has been made. “It has been somewhat challenging over the last year as we have had to support the roll out of new ErP (Energy-related Products) directive compliant boilers into the market,” he explains. “We have done this successfully by working closely with our distribution partners and merchants to facilitate the transition whilst ensuring they’re not left with out-of-date stock.“
Bearing in mind this forward-looking focus, Baxi enters this milestone year committed to continuing the process of evolution it has very much been a part of for the last century and a half. “A lot of changes have taken place throughout our history and even more are inevitably set to happen well in to the future,” Paul highlights. “It’s all about making our products more reliable, more efficient, more fit for purpose and more easy to use. As a leader in this field we are taking people, both our customers and our employees, on a journey and I think the next stage of this journey is in the increased connectivity of home appliances.”
As with many leading manufacturers across multiple industry sectors, the need to engage with the impending Internet of Things is occupying much of Baxi’s development focus at present. However, with its long-standing value to make its customer’s lives easier plus its unique attention to market demands, the company is taking this in its stride. “Everything we develop and launch is a result of listening to customer insights and feedback from the individual market sectors that we serve,” says Paul. “At the moment the trend is that everything is becoming increasingly connected and so we are looking closely at smart technology and how we can integrate boiler systems into this communicative network. As such, over the coming months and years we will be introducing a lot of smart technology that enables our customers to engage and communicate with our products more and more.”
The progress towards this has already began with the launch of a new Toolbelt app. Targeted towards its trade customers, the app includes a gas calculator and pipe sizing calculator amongst other key tools, plus maintains a link with Baxi’s loyalty scheme platform. “This has been launched successfully and we will be assessing our customers’ feedback to improve it continuously and make their lives better,” Paul adds.
Realising this vision to bring connectivity into its boiler range will be a key part of Baxi’s focus over the coming 12 months. In the final quarter of 2016 it will be launching a new range of boilers that bring connectivity and smart solutions to the fore of its offering. Careful to serve its end users in the best way possible, Baxi splits its market up into defined segments, meaning it can take into account the varying needs of specific customer requirements. This coming launch will be targeted towards the independent installer segment, and its next launch in 2017 will be aimed at the public and social housing sector before further evolution makes its way across the rest of the portfolio.
Besides its long history and forward-thinking attitude, Baxi has also built itself a reputation for quality and value for money. By employing refined lean manufacturing techniques and a number of qualified six sigma operatives the company is able to compete with foreign imports on price, whilst maintaining the utmost quality standards. “We manufacture many of our components from scratch,” explains Paul. “In Preston we cast all of our own heat exchangers in our foundry and we have a sister company in Norwich that manufactures cylinders from scratch. This way we are not merely an assembly plant, but a manufacturer in its truest form.” Supplying across Europe to partner companies under the Dutch-based BDR Thermea group, Baxi’s Preston plant manufactures over seven million components a year.
High quality comes courtesy of an extremely rigorous testing and development programme. “Our quality department is incredibly important and they won’t let a product go to market unless they think it is reliable and fit for purpose,” Paul expresses. “It’s a process which ensures that we are providing the best products and service to the customer, and upholding our reputation for doing so.” Exemplifying this, over the recent winter months Baxi had around 200 development products operationally installed being put through their paces from both a technical and usability perspective.
As far as the future is concerned then, Baxi is set to continue its journey of evolution and innovation that it has followed since the nineteenth century. By working closely with both its customers, end users and the Government to ensure it can both meet and help define boiler regulations, the company really is at the forefront of the industry. Ultimately, however, it is its commitment to quality and customer service that has driven this success, and as such remaining so will be the most important part of Baxi’s future as it moves forward.
Products: Specialist boiler manufacturers