Tag Archives: Manufacturing Improvement

The Carrot Conflict


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

043_3500x2011_all-free-download.com_3177516Whilst preparing Sunday lunch an incident happened that highlighted the fact that clarity of instruction is key to getting a job done right first time.

The leg of lamb was in the oven slowly roasting. Beautiful roast potatoes were turning crisp on the outside whilst remaining soft and fluffy on the inside. The kitchen was filled with the intoxicating aroma of good home cooking, and children were hanging around in anticipation of purloining a roast potato whilst my back was turned.

I had just started to prepare the carrots when I realised that we had run out of mint sauce. As you are all undoubtedly aware, to eat roast lamb without mint sauce is a sin that can never be forgiven. I therefore had to go to the local shop to purchase a jar, but also needed to get the carrots peeled and chopped.

My son, Thomas, the eldest of the tribe, just happened to wander into the kitchen at that moment, probably trying to steal a roast potato, and I saw an opportunity. I could give him the chance to learn some valuable life skills by seconding him into the role of chief carrot prep chef, whilst I went to get the mint sauce.

Thomas was promptly given the task of peeling and chopping half the carrots, whilst I went to collect the mint sauce. After listing a myriad of reasons why he couldn’t perform such a task he eventually undertook the challenge once a bribe of two roast potatoes was offered.

Ten minutes later, I returned with the required mint sauce in hand. I walked into the kitchen to see my proud son standing by the counter with half the carrots chopped and peeled, and expecting his roast potato reward. There was, however, an issue.

Rather than remove half the carrots from the bag and peel and chop them, he had removed all the carrots from the bag, peeled half of each carrot and then promptly chopped the peeled half. After arguing that he hadn’t done the task as required and therefore wouldn’t get his reward, Thomas called the official adjudicator, my wife, to make a decision. After having the situation explained to her, the adjudicator looked at the chopping board and declared that although the task wasn’t performed to my expectations, half the carrots were peeled and chopped and therefor the reward had to be paid. The situation, allegedly, was my fault because my level of instruction was not adequate. I should have said remove half the carrots from the bag and fully peel and chop those that have been removed. In other words, be more unambiguous with my instruction.

Misinterpretation of instructions is a common issue in many manufacturing facilities, especially when those instructions have to pass through numerous shifts. This misinterpretation can cause loss of production, quality defects, and more seriously, health and safety issues. One of the quickest and easiest ways to get a consistent message across quickly is via a One Point Lesson, (OPL).

Click here for our Top Tips on how to create an OPL.

LaurasInternational-Carrot-OPL

 

Since the creation of a carrot preparation One Point Lessons my wife and children look at me with a sorry look in their eyes and tend to shake their heads in disbelief when I ask for someone to help with the Sunday Lunch, but at least the carrots are prepared correctly!

For more Top Tips for Manufacturing Professionals, check out our Improvement Toolkit.

Advertisements

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?

5 ways to identify opportunity

Written by Jeremy Praud, Head of UK & Europe

Taking cost out of your manufacturing operation so that your unit can stay competitive will help you win your contracts again when they come up for tender – but how do you know what is the right amount of cost to take out, and from where?

Here are 5 ways to identify opportunities to take cost out:

1. Make sure your plan covers all 3 areas of major spend.

Direct Labour, Raw Materials and Packaging, and Overheads are the 3 major areas of manufacturing spend.  Your manufacturing ‘Overhead’ spend is probably mostly on Engineering, Salaries, and Energy. Does you plan cover all these areas, or are you missing a whole area of opportunity?

2. Measure your plans against ‘True’.
Your standards were useful for the costed submission that won your factory the work last time – but they’re no good for knowing what you can do in the future. Ensure you have an opportunity matrix that identifies opportunity against maximum run speed of the bottleneck, not the standard speed.  Don’t fool yourself that you’re doing well if you have a positive material variance, when the standard allows for 8% waste.

3. Set the right technology benchmarks.
You’re never going to achieve 100% – unless you haven’t followed point 2. So what is possible? 75%-98% depending on what technologies you are using. Could you achieve 98% with a technology change?

4. Understand how much of the gap you can close. 
40% in the first year is possible.  Have you allocated the resource to get you there? Is your improvement team skilled and efficient and able to close the gap?

5. Align capital plans and non-capital plans.
Invest your capital allowance for improvement in equipment that is going to increase the bottleneck rates or reduce headcount.  Investing in replacing performing equipment is simply trying to run away from root-cause problem solving, and increasing your depreciation to simply stay still in terms of unit cost – which could leave you in a nasty place in the future.   

 

Check out this video to see how we help FMCGs identify Improvement Opportunities with an onsite assessment.

Who is in Power?

Written by Erica Bassford, Head of Aspire, Lauras International

I recently asked a group of Front Line Managers ‘Who holds power in your workplace?’ Not surprisingly they focussed on the Legitimate Power, given by virtue of the organisational structure. At the top of their list was their MD followed by their Directors and then their Managers. If their position alone did not get action then using Reward (if I do this well, I might get a pay rise) or Coercion (I had better do it, else my boss might discipline me) usually did the trick.

Web_Erica_Resources-300x166When the group considered ‘What is power?’ they soon realised that the ability to get people to do something they wouldn’t otherwise have done doesn’t rest solely with management. Other people within their organisation, without grand job titles, also had power. They had key influencers throughout their business.

When asked what these individuals had that gave them power they identified two key elements; they had either gained respect for who they were (Referent Power) or had gained respect for their knowledge and experience (Expert Power).

The skill of a Great Leader is not to accumulate power but to manage others with power. Which people in your organisation have the greatest power to get others to act? Are they leading others astray?

Identify who has the power in your business then share with them your vision, not forgetting to include where they fit within that vision. Give these individuals open and honest constructive feedback, both of the things they do well and of their short comings.

Don’t forget Great Leaders don’t have all the answers so solicit feedback, listen and be prepared to make adjustments too.

If you’re looking to harness the power of your workforce, and develop Great Leaders in your business, get in touch today to see how our ‘Aspire – Producing Excellence‘ programs could help.

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.

Tender Process Tips

Written by Jeremy Praud, Head of UK & Europe at Lauras International.

I toyed with the idea of calling this blog ‘how to choose a supplier’, but realised that when it comes to embarking on a strategic change project that will shape the whole future of your company, you’re really looking for more – you’re looking for a partner.

As an Improvement Support partner to our clients, we’ve been asked a number of times to assist with the tender process of acquiring, building, or divesting factories.

The tender process can take many forms – but our top tips will help you to keep it fair and focused:

  1. Ensure sure your initial brief is sound – involve your stakeholders, scope your requirements, and think through all the decisions that have to be made.
  2. Base your decision on a balanced matrix of supplier capabilities, experience, and tender responses that will help you make your final decision.
  3. Only invite companies to tender that have a strong reputation and all the capabilities you require for your project. This requires a fair bit of homework.
  4. Make the process as clear and the timeframe as short as possible – so all involved know what is expected and remain engaged throughout the process.
  5. When it comes to making a decision – rule tenders based on your matrix and remember to feedback to the unsuccessful companies and thank them for their tender.
  6. Always perform due diligence on your final shortlist to assess financial stability before awarding the contract to your project partner.

TenderProcess

If you have a strategic change project on the horizon and would like some assistance in choosing partners that will help guarantee the success of the project – then get in touch today and we’ll guide you through the selection process.