Category Archives: TPM

M&S Lean Audit: What’s missing for FMCGs?

Lean-for-FMCGs-AuditThis blog is part of an editorial series written by Jeremy Praud, Head of UK & Europe.

This is now my fourth blog in the ‘Lean Audits for FMCGs’ series.  If you’d like to start at the beginning, click here.

Otherwise, lets look at two key tools that are missing from the ‘Classic Lean’ Toolkit that would deliver significant value to FMCGs, an area of focus that doesn’t belong, and one of the greatest benefits of the M&S Lean Audit Framework.

Debottlenecking is missing – yet has fastest impact on your bottom line
The major tool missing from Classic Lean that is of tremendous value within FMCG is debottlenecking theory – sometimes called the Theory of Constraints (TOC).  Pioneered by Eli Goldratt in the book “The Goal”, debottlenecking methodologies can be used to optimise line performance, and give a clear set of tactics to deliver improvement.

The average FMCG manufacturing line has approximately 9 processes.  This is many fewer than a car line – and this difference is the key reason why constraint theory doesn’t appear in the classic Lean Toolkit.  However, as a tool used to optimise speed, line control, and accumulation, it has one of the fastest impacts to the bottom line you can hope to achieve.

Improvement Systems is missing –  yet critical to sustain improvement
Good leadership and management processes are of course common across industries.  The M&S audit does a good job on most of these.  If there’s one thing the audit is light on though, it’s ensuring the right reporting is delivered easily from the right kind of measurement systems.  KPI’s are taken for granted within the audit – but all too often FMCG factories struggle with the accuracy of information.  Ensuring your measurement system is telling you to work on the right things, not the wrong things, is of critical importance and should be high on your priority list.

Supplier Relationships – not relevant for most FMCGs
Lean Audits often prioritise focus on Supplier Relationships.  For FMCG manufacturers, this requires leverage of the buyer on the supplier – and whilst this holds true in some supplier relationships, there are many where it does not.

The large enterprises have identified this, and in many instances are already trying to mimic the tactics used on them for so many years by the retailers. Whether the relationships being mimicked could be called compatible with “Lean” however is a different question.

The purpose of the Lean Audit framework should be to help you achieve a better cost to manufacture. If you are not a large enterprise, move Supplier Relations lower on list of priorities than other activity.

Improvement Champions – the real win for FMCGs
Finally, one of the greatest benefits the M&S Lean Framework will bring is the focus on having an improvement champion/manager.  The legacy of a half a century of quality audits is that the requirement for a quality department is no longer questioned. The real win will be if Lean Audits help businesses to understand that whilst continuous improvement, like quality, is everyone’s responsibility –  Improvement Champions are the key to  ensuring the processes are working, running CI workshops, and offering training and support With Improvement Champions in place, we can look forward to a continual improvement in manufacturing efficiencies, reduction in waste, and ever improving manufacturing cost per unit.

Next time I’ll be looking at how to make Lean work in FMCG. And to hear more on this subject from us, retailer M&S, and supplier Greencore – register for this Food Manufacture webinar.

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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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Lean Audits drive action – but is it the right action?

This blog is the second in a series written by Jeremy Praud, Head of UK & Europe at Lauras International.

TPM-SixSigma-LeanIn my last blog I mentioned that Marks & Spencer’s, who pioneered the Quality Audits, have introduced a Lean Audit into their Plan A.

So lets look at whether ‘Lean’ will deliver in the food industry what is clearly hoped of it by the retailers. The objective of course is to lower manufacturing costs – so of the three main approaches to continuous improvement, is Lean the right one, and is it what is needed in FMCG?

Lets consider the other two approaches – TPM and Six Sigma
If we look at the relatively low asset cost required in FMCG manufacture, the spend required to achieve exceptionally reliable equipment – the fundamental reason for a TPM approach – rarely gives a value return. This means that reliability of 96% is generally quite acceptable, except for a few notable exceptions, and the requirement to spend big on predictive maintenance just isn’t there as it is in other industries.

Meanwhile, Six Sigma is fundamentally about eliminating variation – 6 standard deviations from the mean and all that (actually 4.5, but that’s another story). For FMCG, with low unit cost (and permissible variation of around 1 sigma due to the average weight legislation) again the high-end techniques of Six Sigma have limited value return.

This means that a Lean Approach is in the driving seat
However, Lean did not originate in FMCG – it comes from automotive, with an entirely different asset base and set of base assumptions. This means that whilst many areas of Lean can deliver real value for FMCG, we must be careful in its application. What is taken for granted in automotive is not always true in FMCG – thus the success of the Lean Audits in reducing cost within FMCG will ultimately come down to how well adapted they are for the FMCG sector.

Taking one example (and there are many more); Constraint Theory as outlined in Eli Goldratt’s “The Goal” is of huge applicable benefit within FMCG, but classic Lean either ignores it completely, or allows the contraction of ‘Unnecessary WIP’ to merely ‘WIP’ to drive exactly the wrong actions.

Having experienced the misfortune of this type of misapplication, one FMCG factory owner was heard to remark “I’d rather have taken a million pounds in cash out the bank and used it to fuel a bonfire in the car park – it would have been less painful than what happened”!

So – the future is sure to be Lean Audits – but the companies that succeed from using them will be the ones that are wise to prioritizing what delivers rapid bottom line benefit – and uses an approach to continuous improvement tailored specifically for FMCG.

Tune in next week for the next blog in this series, or hear more on this topic by registering for Food Manufacture’s Lean Audit webinar (11am, 26th April).

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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.

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…