About Us - Lean Manufacturing

Who are Indoor Outdoors?

Our origins and our mantra

Indoor Outdoors was started in 2016. Our first product was the Straight Railway Sleeper Bracket. This product was actually just created to fill a need for a gardening project, creating some driveway edging from timber sleepers. The quality and ingenuity of this product led to Indoor Outdoors being created, as a way of selling this new gardening essential.

Now we have over 1000 products that we manufacture right here in our factory in Mundford (that's a few miles from Thetford, near the Norfolk/Suffolk border). We design the products here, we cut them on our lasers, we fold them, we weld them, we paint them and we pack them, before sending them directly to you. Our products are truly Made in the UK as we like to do everything ourselves and not rely on outsourced manpower or workforces. We've grown to 12 members of full time staff in this time.

To improve efficiency, and reduce wasteful processes, we follow a concept called "2-Second Lean". This is the idea of making small improvements every day to save time on processes with an overall goal to remove "waste" in the business, whether this be excessive motion to perform a task, producing smaller quantities to avoid transport and storage costs, or ensuring products to not get defected at any stage. The main focus of the concept is to "improve the quality of the product for the customer", which we follow strictly, ensuring only good, well-made products leave our premises to reach our customers.

How Do We Make Our Products?

A step-by-step look at our production process

Product Design

We design all of our steel products in-house. We have a small team of product designers who are constantly looking at new products and ideas which we can design. We use the latest software to ensure precision designs can be passed along to our production team for a top-quality product.

We regularly look at existing products and think "how could this be better" or "how can this be made easier" to ensure our products remain the best quality for our customers. The Design team are also responsible for creating our laser files, which must be optimised to reduce cutting time and reduce the amount of parts which have imperfections.

Laser Cutting & Finishing

All of our metal products begin their life at our Laser and Finishing department. Here we use CNC lasers to cut out the products from sheet metal, which is then finished by hand to ensure clean edges and quality control.

We have multiple lasers, capable of cutting a variety of thicknesses and types of metal, allowing us to offer a varied selection of products at different strengths for different levels of usage.

Folding

Apart from our flat brackets, almost every product we do requires some element of folding, whether it be a quick 90° angle, or some intricate acute folds. Our folding department handle 100s of products a day across our folding machines.

The amount of tooling required to do this job would typically make storing them all a nightmare, but Stuart has worked tirelessly to ensure all of his tools have a specific, well-labelled home.

Welding & Rolling

Some of our products require welding, and with the assistance of a welding robot, we can output 100s of welded products a day. Our Circular Planters along with some others also require rolling to get that delightful round shape, which is also performed here.

Similar to the folding department, there are a massive amount of tools and jigs required to do this job, which all have a home on our Tool Walls and machinery.

Powdercoating

Apart from our bare steel products, our products get powdercoated to give them a little colour or texture. We have 2 booths set up, which we actually built ourselves, one for coating products in brown and black, and one which does our bright and vibrant colours.

In each booth, every tool, every colour of powder and every accessory has a home which is clearly labelled so our staff can find them quickly when they need them.

Pre-Packing

Originally our warehouse staff would apply the finishing touches and assembly to our products, and would box them up ready for shipping. As orders increased throughout our growth and evolution, we realised a step was required between Powdercoating and Packing. Hence, Pre-Packing was born.

Here, we assemble products into their finished state, perform quality control on things that will be going out the door, and ensure that each product is given a sturdy box and durable packaging. 80% of the packaging used is designed and manufactured in-house using our cardboard cutting machine.

Given its novelty, we see many improvements each day in this area, from giving new tools a home, to finding new and inventive ways to pack items saving on time or materials.

Packing

The packing team are the ones who ensure the product you have ordered makes its way to you. We keep roughly 2 week's worth of stock in our warehouse, meaning our packers can quickly get items and apply a label to the box to get it out of the door. Our brackets are packed manually by our team, with each set strapped together and boxed as they are needed.

We have made big improvements to our packing process over the last 2 years with racking locations and picking areas set up to ensure the packing time is reduced by hours.

Shipping

Our packing team work with our couriers: DPD, Royal Mail, UPS and Bartrums to ensure all vans are loaded carefully and respectfully to minimise damage in transit of all of our goods.

Once the product reaches your front door, our production and delivery cycle is complete.