Tag Archives: Manufacturing

What would Claudio do?

Written by Adrian Oliver, Engagement Leader, Lauras International

iStock_000010821364_Large“Leicester City have just won the Premier League!” Go on say it again, “Leicester City have just won the Premier League!” The league table does not lie, the best team always wins in the long run. They are the best team with the best results. What an amazing achievement of sustained effort over the season, 36 games.

With 2 games left the players and management team are able to now relax and have a well-earned rest. A bit of downtime during the summer before they get ready for next Season…

Did you watch their 37th game against Everton? That was not the display of a team taking it easy. They ran their opponents into the ground, had 30 shots versus their opponents 9 and won the game 3:1. Claudio Ranieri, the Leicester City Manager, prior to the game has been credited with motivating his team to perform well, celebrating winning the league but then focussing his team on getting ready for the next season and proving to the world that they are worthy champions: the best.

Like Claudio, we need our teams to be performing at their best each time they enter the competitive arena, be that the football field, sales negotiation, or manufacturing line. Here are six simple steps for motivating our teams to perform at their best every time…

Six Simple Steps to Motivating Teams

Finding the right type of motivation for our teams and then applying it is a critical tool for any leader to have in their toolkit. Get this right and we can deliver truly exceptional results. Get it wrong and things can go the other way. The time we spend with our teams is our most valuable time as a leader as it enables us to influence performance.

But how good at this are we? And do we practice these things in our daily roles, every day…?

  1. Do we hear ‘continual whinging’ about a problem – or do we truly listen to what our people are telling us?
  2. Is it easier to develop the solution for the team and then get them to ‘select the colour’ – or do we get them involved with the problem-solving?
  3. Do we demand answers when things go wrong – or praise them for a job well done?
  4. When the Boss calls, what’s the first thing that drops off our list? Do we ring-fence time in our diary each day for our team?
  5. Does that report that needs to be done before going home for the day preoccupy us when talking to our teams – or are we fully focussed on them as people?
  6. If we’re feeling frustrated, do we head to the shopfloor to catch someone doing something wrong – or do we walk the shopfloor at regular times so that people know when they can share a fantastic idea with us?

From Line Managers to CEO’s we should secure time to be with and motivate our teams. To fully converse and engage with them. Listen to what they have to say and provide effective feedback. This is the gift that only we as Leaders can give, and it might surprise you to see what you get back in return.

Something to think about isn’t it?

If you find yourself pausing to contemplate how well you and your team of managers do this then maybe it is time to re-sharpen your Leadership tools. What would Claudio do? How do you become Champions?

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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?

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.

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.

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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.

Top Tips for Front Line Managers

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

Top Tips for Front Line Managers

Our last blog discussed the 3 ingredients that keep staff successfully engaged in manufacturing improvement programmes – Inclination, Ability & Time.  The level of success however comes down to your Front Line Management team’s ability to take these raw ingredients and develop skilled and ‘switched on’ operators.  All too often, highly skilled individuals are promoted to Front Line Management positions without the necessary training experience, and with little support or coaching in their new role.

That’s why we’ve developed the acclaimed Aspire programme, designed to help Front Line Managers (FLMs) develop the skills required to manage people effectively.

 Here are some of our top tips for FLMs that are implementing Improvement Projects:

  1. See-Try-Do – To relieve the stress of training new initiatives for the first time, we recommend the ‘See-Try-Do’ approach which examines the training subject from a range of viewpoints to consider what questions could be asked and where confusion could arise.
  1. Tackle Conflict Head-on – FLMs often avoid meeting environments because managers are apprehensive about conflict; but without conflict, improvement doesn’t happen.  Coaching will give FLMs the confidence to address conflict safely and manage it through to a positive resolution.
  1. Supercharge Meetings – FLMs that run effective meetings have better track records of implementing successful Improvement Programmes.  Our coaching covers preparation, meeting etiquette and follow up, with top tips such as: hold meetings standing up to increase the energy in the room, value the input of each delegate, and remember the magic formula (70% agreement = 100% commitment for decisions)RACI Matrix.
  1. Use a RACI Matrix – Having clear and unequivocal roles for everyone is fundamental to getting actions done quickly and projects completed efficiently.  A RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix is a very useful tool for ensuring FLMs have assigned and clearly communicated ownership of actions.
  1. Thank with a Reason – As simple as it sounds, saying ‘thank you’ and contextualising the gratitude with a reason, is an effective management principle.  Our Aspire coaching programmes are designed to help FLMs excel in their roles by applying easy to acquire, practical management tools to their day-to-day activities.

Get in touch to see how our Aspire Programme could help your FLMs engage their teams and excel in their roles.

 

 

Ingredients for Improvement: inclination, ability, time

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

The pressure to improve factory margins is on, and often during early periods of economic recovery inflationary pressures return with abundance, and the small margins that many factories operate on can be wiped out. So improving fast is the order of the day, but what is the recipe for success?

Well, we’ve long known that change of any sort requires three ingredients – Inclination, Ability, and Time.  In fact, with sufficient of these, anything is possible – you can even go to the moon – literally.  But what does that mean for a factory?

If we start with inclination, then of course this stems from leadership and how leaders behave.  But is this enough?  It is no good just the senior leadership desiring to change and improve – the ”will’ has to be cascaded throughout the entire organization, and that takes strong management processes.

Next, we need both the ‘know-how’ to improve and the ‘know-what’ – the ability – to change.  The ‘know-how’ is all about having the right tools – Continuous Improvement (CI) tools come in many flavours, but being able to choose the right tool for the right situation is key.  The ‘know-what’ is about having the right KPI’s and measurement systems in place that tell you what the biggest losses to the business are, and point you in the right direction so that you can go and see the problems, and hence apply one of those tools to do something about it.

The final ingredient is time – because it’s no good having everyone in a business all enthusiastic to improve, kitted out with the right information and tools, and then keeping everyone busy at the coal-face, and never giving them an opportunity to do improvement.  And it’s not about appointing one or two people into improvement roles (although a champion is important!).

It’s a rare business these days that can afford extra resource – so it’s about making more of the people you already have – and doing that is called “engagement”.

So, to keep ahead of the competition, make sure that you’ve got all the ingredients for success in place.  For a free 1-day consultation to determine your health towards sustainable improvement, drop us a line.

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…