Most businesses connected to the Automotive Industry have in some way been affected either directly or indirectly by the concepts of Lean Manufacturing. This means that, in order to remain competitive, these companies must adopt at least the best practices of their competitors, but really ought to go beyond this level to become leading suppliers and partners.
Our client, in this case, supplies many clients in the Automotive Industry with printed plastic elements and needed to satisfy the following three objectives:
- Optimisation of productive processes
- Adoption of an advanced production management system
- Reduction of inventory and an increase in the turnover rate of both raw materials and finished products
A crucial step in this process was the investment of time and resources in the definition of the Company Empowerment Roadmap. The process involves senior management and key players who will be involved in the foreseen project. The actions leading to the roadmap (interviews, line visits and workshops) allowed the key players time and a safe space to explore their hopes and doubts whilst taking into account the scientific evidence presented which emphasises the current situation compared to the predicted future.
This phase is fundamental in ensuring that the sponsorship for the project is very clearly expressed, not just through the communication plan, but above all through the actions and attitudes of the key players.
The second aspect of which was critical for the success was the transparency and visibility of the results form the first phases of the project. In addition to the organisation of regular Project Review Meetings, particular attention was paid to the establishment of intermediate SMART objectives, making it easier to assess the amount of change successfully introduced and results obtained.
Overcoming initial scepticism among some of the key players who had been a part of other change initiatives which had not obtained the projected results. The Company Empowerment Roadmap process dispelled scepticism in that there was already a feeling that this project was structured in a different way and offered them the chance to freely demonstrate and explore doubts.
The project’s initial phases allowed for the creation of a united and highly committed core project team which developed both its technical expertise and its ability to collaborate on an evermore effective level with colleagues, suppliers and clients. The final results were:
- Optimisation of the use of the industrial plant. With a 5% increase in sales, there was a contemporary reduction of the use of the plant of 7,7% and a 10% reduction in the amount of end products in the inventory worth €500K of a €32 million turnover.
- Optimisation of the Supply Chain: lean redesign of productive processes and compliance with IATF 16649 norms, together with the adoption of an advanced Planning and Scheduling system for production.
- Support for the generation of a new managerial culture
- Establishment of a system for business analytics to ease management decisional process
For the company:
- The importance of well distributed ownership of the productive processes as a fundamental element to obtain clear commitment for continual improvement.
- The importance of constantly seeking out the root cause and making decisions based on hard data.
- Reduction of Muda (wastes) not only as a way of increasing value for the end client and company, but also as a mindset for working better.
- The importance of offering clients critical decision options, i.e. the chance to decide not to continue with a major project following the Company Empowerment Roadmap. If the Key Players are not truly committed, why continue. If the project is deemed fundamental, a phase of motivational work needs to be carried out with the key players.
- When delivering a complex project over a number of years, it is necessary to help stakeholders focus on objectives and the project path. The project needs to split into subprojects with clear work packages and deliverables – a maximum length of 12 months for each sub project is advised.