Strive for Perfection; Achieve Excellence image


Strive for Perfection; Achieve Excellence

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

It would be great if your factory could achieve perfection, but do you actually know what that would look like? 

If your capacity bottleneck ran as fast as it could, not missing a beat and making no waste, what would it cost to make your product? What is your perfection cost against direct labour, materials, energy, maintenance, and salaries? What would be achievable if all your resources were available, operational and working to maximum capacity?

If you understand what perfection looks like, you can work out the gap between your current performance and what is realistically achievable.

This doesn’t mean that perfection becomes your new target. Perfection isn’t possible in any business. You cannot expect employees and equipment to run at maximum capacity and for demand to exactly match supply every hour of every day. It just isn’t feasible.

However, if you know what perfection looks like, you can take the right steps towards it. If you continually close the gap between current performance and perfection, you’ll end up somewhere around excellence.

Valuing perfection cost isn’t easy. Capacity bottlenecks are different for different SKU’s, even on the same line. Working out how to allocate overheads fairly at SKU level is a complex task, and if there are no safety margins to hide behind, it becomes scary. 

However, if you can calculate perfection costs as closely as possible, this will give you benchmarks to work to.

Benchmarks against perfection are useful for understanding the achievable opportunity. Internal factors such as management bandwidth, maturity towards improvement, manufacturing complexity, and foundation systems should be deciding factors for how much of the gap it is possible to close in the next twelve months. 

You can now set an improvement plan based on closing the gap according to site capability. This gives you realistic targets to work to rather than just pulling figures out of the air. Clear, realistic targets encourage the right behaviours and the right results.

Unrealistic targets that don’t consider all the relevant data will result in the wrong behaviours and the wrong results. This is often evident where sales targets have been dramatically increased. Large discounts are applied because the focus is on hitting those figures no matter what. Then someone suddenly realises that although the sales targets have been met, the profit margin has significantly decreased and you’re in no better position than you were before.

Set your targets against operational performance by understanding exactly what would be achievable if perfection was possible and deciding what is realistically attainable.

Strive for perfection; achieve excellence.

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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

The course has helped me to understand that there are lots of different types of people but you need a good mix to be an effective team and to get the best results.

Front Line Manager on Aspire Programme