Written by Jason Gledhill, Engagement Leader at LI Europe.

As a Manufacturing Improvement Professional, I am lucky to have the opportunity to visit many factories, producing huge numbers of different products. Many of these factories have been good, but on occasion, some of these factories have been exceptional. The layout of the production facilities, level of GMP and the standard of visual management within these factories have been outstanding.

It’s from these factories that I have become a thief.  Perhaps thief may be a strong word to use but why not share great ideas around when you have the chance.   I have not been too proud to learn new ideas and have subsequently implemented them in many manufacturing facilities. Even mediocre sites often do some things better than anyone else.

I am fortunate to be able to visit a range of factories on a regular basis, whereas many of you will be on the same site day in and day out and have little, or no opportunity to visit other sites. Imagine if you had the chance to visit numerous production facilities and see different ideas and ways of working?

Members of The Ambassadors Academy (TAA), on occasion, willingly host onsite visits to their fellow Academy members. This enables members to learn and take ideas, in return of course they also get fantastic independent feedback on what they themselves can still improve.

Every month a group of Improvement Specialists from various factories meet to discuss their latest projects and the implementation issues they are facing. Ongoing training in tools and techniques, that TAA members have requested, is delivered by LI Europe.

Click here for more information about The Ambassadors Academy.

Written by Jason Gledhill, Head of Reliable Maintenance at LI Europe

Plan-Effective-Meetings

[Source: quotesgram.com]

Those people fortunate enough to be a child in the 80’s will undoubtedly recognise the opening narration of the hugely popular A Team…

“In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them….maybe you can hire The A-Team.” [Source: IMDB Quotes]

 

Every week the A team were portrayed as acting on the side of the good, helping an oppressed community against a band of thugs and bullies. The programme inevitably ended with an outlandish finale with over-the-top violence (in which people were seldom seriously hurt), spectacular explosions, and jeeps being overturned.

John “Hannibal” Smith would create a complicated plan and rely on BA “I pity the fool!” Baracus, Templeton “Face” Peck and the crazy pilot “Howling Mad” Murdock to deliver its success. The ability of the team to form weaponry and vehicles out of old parts formed a focus for the last 20 minutes of the program.

 

How do you think Hannibal relayed his plan to the rest of the A Team?

  1. Did he keep it in his head and not tell anyone about it?
  2. Did he write it down and give it to everyone as a memo? (No e-mails back in the 80’s)
  3. Did he just tell one of the team and expect them to relay the plan between each other?
  4. Did he have a meeting with the rest of the A Team and the people who hired them?

Undoubtedly he chose option 4; and judging by the results, where the underdogs – the A Team – overcame overwhelming odds and beat the bad guys every week, without injury to themselves or the people who hired them, Hannibal’s meeting must have been highly effective.

 

Just take a second and ask yourself “How effective are my meetings?”

  • Do you always get the results you desired?
  • Does everyone involved in the meeting see them as value adding?
  • Do people turn up prepared?
  • Do all the actions get recorded and delivered?

 

If you’ve answered no to any of the above, your meetings aren’t as effective as they could be. 
So here are a few simple tips for effective meetings:

  • Have your meeting standing up
  • Lock the door after the start of your meeting
  • Keep score of the issues raised, actions assigned, actions completed on time and reviewed
  • Track how many actions have a who, when and what

And remember:

  • To value the input of each delegate
  • Make sure only one person speaks at a time
  • Never belittle anyone else’s ideas
  • 70% agreement = 100% commitment for decisions

 

If you would like to utter Hannibal’s immortal words “I love it when a plan comes together” then get in touch for your FREE ‘Effective Meetings Tip Card’ – call 0333 456 1988 or drop us a line to place your order contact@li-europe.com. 

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

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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Lean-and-Green-webinar-Video

Hear Jeremy discuss this subject with Mike Stones, Group Editor at Food Manufacture


This blog is the first in a series written by Jeremy Praud, Head of UK & Europe

With GCSE and A level exams looming in a couple of months, it is easy to think back to that time (perhaps more years ago than we’d like to admit), that we took exams ourselves.  I remember that as the deadline approached, the mind was able to focus on the task ahead, and get down to revision, and making sure I had done the necessary work.  There’s something about a test that drives action.

Those days may be behind us, but auditing (the analogue of exams in the workplace) are a hugely useful way of ensuring activity takes place rather than constantly being put off in favour of other priorities.

This is why historically Quality Audits have been so effective across the UK food industry.  Standards have been driven ever upwards, so much so its hard to believe what it was like 50 years ago…  In hoping to supply a retailer with their standard Bordeaux, one young entrepreneur took the de facto product for analysis to find out where it came from, and discovered it was simply not from Bordeaux. In fact, it wasn’t even wine – rather a mix of industrial alcohol, food colourings and glycerol!

Whilst last year’s horsemeat scandal reminds us of the need for constant vigilance, the wholescale abuses of the past simply aren’t viable any longer – and make no doubt about it, it’s external audit that has achieved that goal.

But what next as the margins to be gained from Quality Audits are ever diminishing?  

Manufacturers aren’t merely interested in good quality. Cost and on time delivery are just as important.  So an audit that is going to help manufacturers drive efficiency and reduce waste has the potential to give a competitive audit to both those companies, and ultimately any retailer sourcing from those companies.

No doubt that is why Marks & Spencer’s, who pioneered the Quality Audits, have introduced a Lean Audit into their Plan A.  With 300 companies being asked to achieve silver status by 2017, any company wanting to supply M&S in the future needs to be on their game. For everyone else, they can be sure that where M&S lead, the other retailers will follow, which means that Lean Audits in the food industry are going to be the shape of things to come.

In my next blog I’ll be looking at whether ‘Lean Audits’ are actually what is needed in FMCG. Stay tuned…

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Written by Steve Roger, Global Managing Director of LI Europe

iStock_000010821364_LargeErica recently shared a great blog on how manufacturing professionals can find ‘hidden zones‘ by exploring their strengths and weaknesses. This week, I’d like to examine this subject in some further detail…

A key requirement to enabling the delivery of manufacturing improvement is to measure where we are. The common statement made is “what you don’t measure, you can’t improve”.

This is often a key aspect in audits or using KPIs to measure and drive performance.

Following these audits, the focus is often on improving the “weak” areas: a valid and essential approach if the “weak” area is not at the certain, required level. However, to continue to focus on weak areas to match performance in other stronger areas may in fact be a mistake.

In studies (Corp Leadership Council) of 20,000 people across multiple organisations, the results revealed that when people focused on their strengths, performance increased by 36% – whereas when they focused on a weakness, performance dropped by 27% (CLC 2002).

All manufacturing organisations have individuals with diverse talents and strengths. Leveraging and building on the strengths of the individuals within a team actually minimises the impact of the “weaknesses” in other members, and typically fosters both greater engagement and greater commitment.

Often the barrier to Continuous Improvement is individuals resisting changing their behaviours. Encouraging individuals to focus on what they do well, and can do more of, results in positive outcomes and increased motivation -which often makes individuals more receptive to adopting new behaviours.

Ultimately, being open about and understanding the strengths of different team members helps a team to better leverage their collective strengths. If you’d like help with identifying, measuring, and managing your  team’s strengths – get in touch and start improving your manufacturing performance today.

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Written by Erica Bassford, Head of Aspire at LI Europe

Four eggs 2During a recent management training course I was asked if an individual should focus on improving their weaknesses first or developing their strengths. It’s a bit like ‘which comes first, the chicken or the egg?’

You are only as strong as your weakest link. If your weakness is something you need to use in your day to day life, being your weakest link is probably having a significant effect on your overall effectiveness. Our strengths, on the other hand, form part of our Unique Selling Point (USP). Continually developing our USP to ensure it remains unique is important, isn’t it?

We all prefer to work on what we enjoy and what we enjoy is almost always something we find relatively easy or we are good at it. Investing in your weakness, therefore, is likely to be more time consuming, more frustrating and will require more effort.

There is no straight answer but what is clear, our first task is to understand ourselves not only from our perspective, but from the perspective of others. We all have ‘hidden’ zones, things people see in us that we are blissfully unaware of. For example, jangling change in your pocket, or saying ‘Umm’ repeatedly during presentations. Once we truly understand our strengths and weaknesses we can make an informed decision on what to invest our time and effort in, and can look for alternatives to help. One of the best ways to overcome our weaknesses is to work with someone who has that as their strength, learning from them. An alternative may be to delegate or even outsource a task that require us to use our weakness.

In truth we will need to develop both our strengths and weaknesses but for the most efficient outcome we not only have to fully understand ourselves, but also the strengths and weaknesses of those around us. Need help with your chicken and egg? We can help you build your unique development plan then work with you to excel.

For more on our Aspire coaching and mentoring programmes for Front Line Managers, get in touch.

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