The importance of quality in creating competitive advantage
A Portakabin case study

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Page 2: Quality products

The term 'product' covers not only goods but the services that support them. Portakabin offers a range of tangible products e.g. Lilliput (a modular nursery building) and Titan (a modular building for office applications). The company also offers key services e.g. Total Solutions, a planning and project management service for customers wanting to hire modular buildings. Portakabin also offers a wide range of support services to clients for whom a modular building is part of a larger plan. If requested, Portakabin will take on the customer's project from start to finish. This includes managing planning applications, project management and providing health and safety advice, as well as providing access for the disabled.


Product quality also relates to how well a product meets changing demands. In modular buildings, technologies are increasing the range of what is possible. At the same time, customers are becoming more particular about their own requirements. For example, they want building solutions that are safe and clean, which minimise disruption, save time and guarantee quality. Quality involves keeping pace with these demands.

Modular construction involves manufacturing a building off-site in a controlled factory environment. For example, the steel modules used to construct Ultima buildings are fully fitted out with all electrics, plumbing, heating, doors, windows and internal finishes before they leave a Portakabin production centre. This enhances their quality and also reduces programme times.

Being registered as meeting the requirements of ISO 9001 is very important to Portakabin. This is because many customers will deal only with organisations that can demonstrate they meet this rigorous standard. All of Portakabin's products meet with modern standards and requirements, and this enhances consumer confidence. To reinforce this quality system, Portakabin has a 'zero tolerance' quality checking system (see section 4) in place, so that no building may leave the production site until it has been checked against, and complies with, demanding customer standards. Furthermore, because of their high quality standards, Portakabin are the only modular building company to offer quality guarantees in the form of 5 and 20 year warranties.

The standards required are wide ranging. For example, the recently ratified Kyoto Protocol requires industrialised nations to limit their production of gases that are harmful to the environment. Portakabin takes this requirement very seriously. As a result, all of its buildings are thermally efficient to minimise energy use. Following Kyoto there are a range of new building requirements and these are particularly important for Portakabin's public sector customers such as hospitals and schools.

Portakabin | The importance of quality in creating competitive advantage