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Where were you the day England played Wales in Euro2016?

Written by Adrian Oliver, Engagement Leader, LI Europe

I was on my way back from a visit to the Weetabix factory in Burton Latimer, just outside Northampton. The visit was arranged as part of Works Management’s Manufacturing Management Conference. The 2 day event provided a fantastic opportunity to catch-up with some of the latest thinking on lean manufacturing, to hear how companies such as Toyota, Newsprinters’ Eurocentral, and GKN have used lean to drive business performance – and also the opportunity to meet a group of people interested in making lean work for their business.

As Gareth Bale stabbed home a close range goal (from 40 yards!) I reflected on the previous 2 days. A number of the presentations focussed on why some lean transformations succeed whilst others fail. Common themes for success are strong leadership and “systems thinking”. Leaders need to identify what they are trying to achieve (the simple release of cash, the drive to meet increase in demand, etc) and effectively communicate this to their teams. They need to focus their time in the areas where lean is being practised (Phil Warner from GKN talked about creating Leader Standard Work for Senior Management) and recognise people as they achieve wins. For all levels of employee this then needs to be embraced within a robust system which encourages standardisation of task and constancy of purpose. I am pleased to say that this reflects the experience of LI Europe over the last 15 years and is why we focus our Sustainable Improvement Model around 3 pillars: Ability (Know How); Inclination (Leadership); and Time (People Engagement).

The visit around the Weetabix factory was quite exciting for me. In 2011 LI Europe had supported the Bars business unit complete a number of lean workshops that resulted in a reduction in wastage of 80% and an improvement in output of over 50%. A culmination of this work resulted in the Site being crowned as Winners of the Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards (read the Case Study here). I am pleased to report that the Site continues to be successful on its lean journey and is well on the way to achieving World Class line efficiency levels. The Site leadership has clearly understood a number of the messages highlighted in the conference, including the need to engage their teams and the use of excellent visual factory standards to help ensure employees focus on the important things at all times. This was a real pleasure to experience and I would highly recommend you take an opportunity to have a look if you get the chance.

[… Wait a minute, the Referee’s Assistant is holding up the board indicating numbers 11 and 15 are coming on for England, who is that? Ah, Vardy and Sturridge, I wonder if they can make an impact?]

If you find yourself reflecting on why your business improvement programme isn’t achieving the impact you hoped for, or if you’re just frustrated at high levels of waste or concerned about escalating operating costs then why not get in touch?

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Testimonials

Inspiring the people in our business to understand how they can improve and the business can therefore develop, is an important building block in our drive for improving efficiency within our business. Engaging everyone in the business to realise that we can be better and any little improvement drives down to the bottom line. This has been seen both in the way the staff have engaged and enjoyed the experience and the evidence of reduced costs has helped the business to become more efficient. This process never stops but it is the tools that have been developed by LI Europe that has allowed us to deliver this important work at both our potato pack houses.

Fraser Scott, Head of Farming Operations Arable/Potatoes

Firstly, Reckitt Benckiser and LI pulled together to improve efficiency levels and there was a focus on both external and internal resources. Before LI arrived efficiency was not good. Secondly, there was good methodology and training using operators to support its implementation. Thirdly, there was daily and hourly focusing on performance. Since LI left, improvements have been sustained.

Bart Derde, Supply Projects Director (Europe), Reckitt Benckiser