With the huge number of composite door brands vying for your attention sometimes it’s difficult to see any difference between them. But Distinction uses techniques introduced by car giant Toyota to make a real difference to its products.

The composite residential door sector of the home improvement market continues to grow, despite the political landscape. As homeowners discovered long ago, a dramatic change to both the appearance and performance of a home can be achieved by replacing the front door, a key focus of a property, for relatively  little money.

This is something that has become an even more attractive proposition in the prevailing ‘improve not move’ market conditions that have taken root in Brexit Britain. Financially secure if cautious homeowners may exercise their continuing instincts to make a real difference to their properties, without going out on a financial limb. And the relative buoyancy of this sector means that new brands continue to emerge with products that are, apparently, very similar.

Many of these will use blanks supplied by Distinction Doors. With one in every four composite doors sold in Britain using a Distinction blank, it is inevitable that any of the established and emerging brands will feature Distinction products. So surely, there is little to choose between any of them?

There are very good reasons why Distinction is the UK’s leading composite door brand, says the company’s Sales and Marketing Director Chantel Roach: “Our products are the best you can buy but of course, I would say that wouldn’t I?” she says, mischievously. “But when you’re considering a new composite door supplier, a brief look behind the scenes is well worth the effort and can be achieved by asking some very simple questions, not least being ‘what happens when there’s a problem?’ Because there will be, inevitably from time to time, along the supply chain.

“The fact is that key issues relating to quality control, stock levels and customer service will have a significant impact throughout the distribution chain and not just upon Distinction’s direct customers. And with that in mind, in the past two years we have focused a great deal of resource on putting in systems, people and training to deal with potential problems, even those that may be outside of our direct control,” explained Chantel.

Although it may sound obvious, at Distinction a philosophy exists that the quality assurance and production departments are intertwined with the unequivocal goal of driving down the risk of manufacturing faults and related returns to an absolute minimum, whereas in many companies quality control is seen as a necessary ‘police force’ to challenge the production department.

This is not, however, a philosophy exclusive to Distinction, as Quality Assurance Assistant Stan Goodhall explains: “The approach we take first and foremost is to use the ‘5-Whys’ approach developed and introduced by Toyota as a means of getting to the root cause of any issues, to solve the problem and to learn about how to avoid it arising again. That way, we can solve both the short-term and long-term issues by being ready for when the same problem arises next time.”

The 5 Whys method was developed by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota and whose Lean Manufacturing System revolutionised manufacturing the world over. The principle of the 5 Whys method is when a problem occurs, ask “why” five times in order to find the source of the problem, then put into place something to prevent the problem from recurring. This concept is used today as part of applying LEAN methodologies to solve problems, improve quality, and reduce costs.

Other elements are drawn from Lean Manufacturing, which is all about optimising processes and eliminating waste and for which all relevant Distinction staff are trained. This can only successfully be done with Quality Control and Production working as one, says Stan: “Combining Quality and Production on the shop floor has a beneficial influence on the machine operatives. It shows them that we are here to help and not to criticise, which is often how quality departments are perceived in other manufacturing operations. It is a crucial step in Distinction’s war on waste.

So the next time you consider switching suppliers, remember that Distinction Doors are produced using techniques that made Toyota the world’s biggest carmaker. It’s a good place to start.