Category Archives: Reliable Maintenance

FMCG Lean Audits: choose from the Toolkit with caution

This blog is the third in a series written by Jeremy Praud, Head of UK & Europe.

In my first two blogs in this series, we looked at the benefits of CI audits, and why Lean Audits could drive improvement in FMCG. 

But not all of  the ‘Lean Toolkit’ is appropriate for FMCGs, and can in fact drive the wrong actions…
The purpose of any continuous improvement function is ultimately to provide a lower manufactured cost per unit.  Whilst all of ‘Lean’ can be said to achieve this, we can see that when applying the principles to FMCG, some assumptions from the car industry don’t translate across so well into fast moving consumer goods (see last blog), and other things taken for granted are of critical importance.

So lets look at what to focus on to drive rapid, sustainable improvement.

The standard tools in the M&S Lean audit are:

  • Workplace Organisation (5S)
  • Problem Solving (5 Whys and FMEA/Fish Bone Diagrams)
  • Value Stream Mapping and
  • Standard Work.

It also briefly touches on Kanban, quick changeovers, and TPM (total productive maintenance).

5S – Low Priority for FMCGs
Classic Lean tends to prioritise workplace organisation (5S).  However, unlike other industries, FMCG already has quality and hygiene standards embedded, which means that the early wins available from workplace organisation elsewhere simply aren’t available within most FMCG factories.  There are of course benefits to be had, but it is a much harder task to translate these to the bottom line,.

As such it is much more prudent to move 5S down the priority of implementation.  It looks good, and does have a moral boosting effect, but better to do this once you have cash in the bank from other tools to have offset the rather significant time investment required.

5 Whys and FMEA/Fish Bone Diagrams – FMCGs can do better
In Classic Lean, the problem solving methodologies promoted are generally 5 Why’s and FMEA / fish bone diagrams.  However, Six Sigma promotes  technically advanced statistical analysis methods that are more useful.

The advantage that FMCG has over other industries is that the processes and machinery simply aren’t that difficult. But this also means that most of the easy wins have already been achieved through experiential problem solving.  As such, FMCG is particularly well suited to the use of problem solving methodologies using Control Factors, or Driver Trees – that drive the simple application of logic and basic science.

Targeted VSM – high priority
Value Stream Mapping as a tool from first principles is best used in extremely targeted ways.  There are specific outcomes that can lead to quick bottom line benefit – changes to the planning process, distribution, warehousing, and stock holding for example – so having a firm view from the outset on the expected outcome and potential realisable benefit is a key step to ensuring maximum rate of return.

For instance, admin processing costs are not generally that high, and significant activity is normally required for even a small benefit.  It is of course a very good thing to do, but understand that other activity is going to deliver much greater benefit earlier for you.

Within FMCG, we can see that the value stream is essentially the order fulfilment process – and as such has traditionally been called the S&OP process.  The first draft of the M&S Lean Audit is quite light on detail in this area, so it ensuring you are using a bespoke S&OP audit process as well, most likely based on the work of Oliver Wight, would be a good way to accelerate the value return.

Quick Changeovers – Highest Priority for FMCGs
Depending on the SKU profile, and work already done, quick changeovers can be of very significant value, and can be moved much further up your priority list, ahead of 5S.

In my next blog, I’ll be looking at what’s missing from this Lean Audit that would add tremendous value to FMCGs – and the tools that really won’t add benefit!

Stay tuned.

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Slay your “Corridor of Uncertainty”

Written by Adrian Oliver, Engagement Leader, Lauras Internationalcricket_image

I was watching the recent Test Match between England and Australia when Ricky Ponting, the ex-Captain of Australian National Cricket, was being interviewed about his experiences as an international cricketer. The interviewer enquired about the biggest changes Ponting had witnessed during his career. He explained that he had started his playing career during the Semi-professional era of the Nineties, through the Professional era and latterly into the Ultra-professional era. What did he mean by this, the interviewer asked…?

With the increase in the number of TV cameras at matches and the proliferation of companies providing data and statistics on all elements of the game, Ponting explained it has become increasingly common for teams to use this data to identify the weaknesses of opponents. With this information teams have been able to develop more effective tactics to defeat an opponent and thus make their path to success more likely. As a consequence, individual players have had to focus their attention more and more effectively on their own areas for improvement, reinventing themselves each year in the face of fierce competition so that they are able to survive and succeed at the pinnacle of their profession.

Having worked in both the food and drink markets, I know from experience how important it is for businesses to use their scarce resources wisely. In the competitive market places that we all operate in, no-one can afford to waste valuable resources on areas that are not priorities. We must deliver sustained improvement in our operations if we are to deliver long-term success.

Like the international cricketers, it is vital that we capture detailed information about our priority areas so that we can recognise areas of strength but also areas for improvement, e.g. once we have identified the bottleneck of a process we can begin to capture data about how effectively it runs. Using simple data capture sheets and proven analytical techniques it is possible to identify the biggest causes of lost production, be it speed, downtime, or quality related. Now we are able to select suitable methodologies and people to deliver the identified improvements. By implementing solutions that are effective for a hundred years we are able to then move onto the next biggest problem without needing to return to the original issue. As we deliver improvement upon improvement our performance begins to accelerate and we develop a culture of success in which our people and business are able to realise their full potential.

Like the international cricketers we have a decision to make. Do we want to rise to the challenges of an increasingly competitive market-place and become recognised for excellence, seizing the initiative and striving for improvement. Or do we stand still and ultimately no-one remembers us?

Free Speed?

Written by Nathanial Marshall, Senior Consultant at Lauras International.

You really can get something for nothing…

Ever been frustrated by the struggle to increase the efficiency on your line? Then why not think about increasing the speed of your bottleneck process?

When we suggest this, we often hear in reply “but it just leads to more waste – we get more output by running slower”. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

Every factory we go into, we are typically able to increase the speed of the bottleneck process by at least 10% without compromising the safety or quality of the product and the people producing it. In addition, we don’t even have to problem solve.

How?  We adjust a little and watch a lot.

We find machines running below their target speed due to a perception of problems if the speed is raised. Often, the problems that occurred at those high speeds have been solved and the machine speed was never raised back to its previous standard.

In comes, free speed.

By turning up the speed of your machine an increment at a time and studying the effect of that increase for a period of time you will almost certainly find no further issues. Just one positive result – an increase in throughput.

Adjust a little and watch a lot.

You will get more output with no more waste, no more downtime and no more physical work. It costs nothing; it really is free speed.

A 10% increase in speed gives you 10% more output.

Eventually, there will come a point where one more increase does give you an issue. This is when we recommend using the ‘Problem Cause Solution’ method to problem solve.

If you’d like us to watch your lines to see where you could make manufacturing improvements, then get in touch.

When you get a minute…

Written by Jason Gledhill

The phrases “Can you just…” or “When you get a minute…” are well recognised by Maintenance Engineers the world over. These phrases typically lead to a member of the maintenance team performing a minor task that may not be truly value adding.

Managing these requests is a must for any maintenance department that wants to be seen to be adding true value to an organisation.

Have you considered implementing a Work Request System?

A Work Request System enables maintenance managers to actively manage the engineering workload:

  • Prioritise requests into either high or low ensures key requests are responded to in a timely fashion.
  • Track outputs for each team member ensures that workloads are spread equally throughout the department.
  • Implement component codes to create a forum for analysing repairs and understanding if the department needs to lend focus to bearing, shafts, chains, sprockets, electrical components, etc.
  • Track the number of requests open versus closed
  • Measure Mean Time to Repair and Mean Time to Close requests to establish baselines and use them as departmental KPI’s to drive performance.

Work Request System

If you’d like to find out more about how to implement a Work Request System that’s right for your business, get in touch.

Asset care: a Four Step Approach

Written by Jason Gledhill

Why do machines fail? Deterioration, stress and weakness are the main factors in machine failure.

When we buy a brand new car we invariably read the manual to get an understanding of the basic maintenance requirements. The car will be washed on a regular basis, tyres and oil checked, etc. When we drive the car, we don’t travel at 90mph in second gear, we drive the car within its capabilities. We’ve spent a large amount of money on the new car, so it would be foolish not to look after it, wouldn’t it? So why don’t we look after the machinery in our work place like this?

Invariably we see key pieces of plant within our factories in a poorly maintained condition, constantly breaking down or causing quality defects with operators who know very little about the machine. To replace the machinery will cost a considerable sum of money and unless we change the way we look after the machinery it will probably need replacing again within 7 to 10 years. A never ending cycle of abuse and cost, that needs to be broken.

Lauras International has a four step approach to Asset Care using a combined operator and maintenance strategy. Through working with engineers on an Asset Care project operators increase their mechanical ability and start to take ownership for their machines. They are able to perform simple maintenance tasks such as changing wear parts and basic lubrication.  The engineering team are then freed up to perform pro-active rather than reactive duties. At the same time operators learn more about the detail of the way machines work from the maintenance team enabling them to start to spot the early stages of problems, that if not properly dealt with would become a major problem in the future.

Asset Care

Contact us to find out more about how we can help you care for your assets.

5 Ways to Prioritise Asset Maintenance

Written by Jason Gledhill, Head of Reliable Maintenance, Senior Consultant at Lauras International.

At the beginning of a new year, we often look at the regimes in our life to decide whether they need a shake up – and it’s often a good time to examine the practices we have in place at work as well…

Most Maintenance Managers will say that they have a maintenance regime that covers the majority of their assets and keeps them in the best possible condition.  When we talk maintenance however, we don’t ask what a factory’s Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) regime covers, we ask how the assets are prioritised, and which are the business critical machines within the plant.

From our experience in the FMCG sector, businesses prioritise maintenance based on the following:

1. New kit – When new machinery is purchased, PPM’s are often created in line with the manufacturers recommendations. Although this can be an effective method it can also be a lengthy process to implement a regime that incorporates the entire factory.  After all, how often do you purchase new items of machinery?

2. Production line or unit – Having purchased new kit recently or not, the majority of businesses will have a proverbial cash cow, the production line that delivers the most amount of profit. The maintenance department will often focus on maintaining these machines at all costs. This focus can frequently change as the business priorities shift, adding pressure on the maintenance department to do the ‘right thing at the right time’

3. Breakdown and Outages – Then there’s the PPMs that are put in place following major breakdowns (AKA the knee jerk method). These are often implemented quickly without a true understanding of the root cause outage and can often result in a number of ineffectual routines that involve a check and inspect type PPM that exhausts valuable maintenance time.

4. Business Pressure – The other approach we see a lot of is to place emphasis on the department that shouts the loudest and longest. But pressure to ensure a regime is in place can result in the wrong focus for the wrong reason and doesn’t necessarily utilise maintenance time for the optimum benefit or true value to the business.

5. Criticality Factors – Thankfully a more sustainable method exists that ensures that right maintenance is carried out at the right time for the right reasons. At Lauras International we advocate prioritising assets with a subjective view, incorporating business needs and maintenance response as criticality influencers. Within these influencers are a number of factors that need to be considered:

  • The business will be concerned with customer service levels. If a process fails with loss of output, will it affect customer service? What quantity of quality defects will be generated should a failure occur and what is the value of these quality defects?
  • Waste and rework can add substantial hidden costs to a product that eats away at the profit margin. Finally, is there a risk to food safety and employee safety? Can your business afford a product recall or lengthy litigation because a member of your team has sustained an injury?
  • The maintenance team will also have their prioritisation process. Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) will be factored into the equation. An asset that takes 8 hours to repair will take priority over an asset that takes less than one hour to repair. Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) will then come into play. Equipment that has a higher failure rate will require more planned maintenance than others with lower failure rates.
  • Cost to repair major outages will also have a huge bearing on the prioritisation process. Maintenance budgets are stretched at the best of times and consequently unplanned expenditure on maintenance events needs to be avoided.

Scoring all these factors will result in machines receiving a grade ranging from AA (could interrupt manufacturing throughout the factory, typically assigned to 5% of factories’ assets) through to C rated machines that will have little effect on business outputs. The maintenance team is then enabled to create a planned PPM regime focusing initially on the AA ranked business critical assets, through the rest of the grades until all assets have a comprehensive maintenance regime.

Asset prioritisation is the first step; we now know which machines have maintenance priority. So how do we create a value adding PPM routine?  I’ll be sharing my insights in this blog over the coming months…