Improving internationally

Improving internationally

Jungle Power Drinks has implemented the EZ-GO app and the platform globally, across all 60 factories. The platform is used to compare positive results between factories in order to facilitate cross-international improvement. ‘Ze next level of continuous improvement’, as the German project manager calls it. The benefits have been clear, so the company will be developing an international dashboard.

Dutch team leader and early adopter of EZ-GO, John Veldman, is enjoying his lunch while overlooking the floor of the factory in Veghel. EZ-GO hasn’t been on his mind for a long time; they implemented the app over a year ago and it has been business as usual ever since. He throws a disrupted glance at his phone as it begins to play ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’, but picks up as soon as he sees that it’s Wolfgang, the project leader for the global EZ-GO implementation. ‘Wolfgang, how nice to hear from you! Alles gut?

‘Ja’, says Wolfgang, who isn’t exactly known for wasting time with small talk. ‘We just completed the implementation of EZ-GO in the final factory in Manaus, Brazil. And I have a question for you.’

Hang on, buddy’, John responds with a smile. ‘How did the implementation go? Are all the countries pleased with the result?’

‘Certainly. The photos and videos make it a truly universal system. And the copy was available in almost all languages. EZ Factory added Portuguese for us. I approached the implementation like a relay race; the project leader of a new location would go on to manage the implementation of the next location. This gave rise to some new ideas, which is what I want to talk about.’

‘What kind of ideas?’

International comparisons

Wolfgang proceeds: ‘The project leaders noticed that they each had a slightly different way of organising AM and using the app, allowing them to learn from each other. This makes for a wealth of information, which is why I’ve now got each factory sharing their AM statistics on the platform. This allows us to make some interesting comparisons.’

John chuckles: ‘Checking up on the slackers in the network, are we?’

‘No, natürlich nicht, John! We focus on the positives. There’s a lot to learn there.’

Wolfgang explains the statistics they use and what they are able derive from them:

  • Similar machines are assigned different numbers of AM tasks depending on their location. Interfacing with these locations allows us to optimise that number.
  • Execution discipline also varies per location. Some countries approach 100%, others remain at 80%. The ability to show an 80% factory that 100% is achievable, helps tremendously in moving them closer to 100%.
  • We also record how many times standards are being modified. Improvements in one location can be relevant to another.

‘That sounds familiar,’ John responds. ‘We compare data between machines as well. One production line scored 77% on a set of tasks, another scored 93%. The 77% score resulted from the fact that the same time frame also included a lot of work on another machine. They were simply unable to finish. So, we solved the situation by spreading the tasks.

Wolfgang: ‘Exactly, that’s the type of analysis I’m talking about’. ‘Looking at the numbers, identifying any significant differences, opening discussions and implementing improvements. Except we are now doing this at the international level. And we are combining the AO statistics from EZ-GO with data from other operational systems, such as productivity figures, short interruption counts, outages and quality reports, to identify any correlations.’

‘Interesting. It must be quite a hassle to extract that data from all those different systems.’

‘It takes some organising, that’s for sure. We have now built interfaces with three locations and are processing their input into a number of analytical models at HQ. Getting that done will make a big difference, but until that time we have a lot of manual labour to go. Still, it will make a tremendous difference for our improvement rate, so it will be worth it in the end.’

Fewer inspections, better results: the Mexican secret

‘I’m sure that’s true’, John responds. ‘But I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it.’

‘Let me give you an example. Our factory in Mexico has the exact same filling machinery as the factory in Guangzhou. Mexico was conducting 30 AM inspections a day with barely any outages at all. China was doing 58 AM inspections a day and was facing a 10% outage rate. How could it be?’

You tell me.

‘What?’

Keine Ahnung, Wolfgang.’

Wolfgang laughs. ‘Culture. As it turns out, inspections in Mexico focused on different aspects and were a lot more effective as a result. China was doing a lot of inspections, but nobody would dare to tell the boss that some inspections are unnecessary or that they fail to identify certain problems. Since the implementation, they had had zero improvement proposals for the AM tasks. Of course, this had a gigantic impact on the productivity of that line. So, we kicked off an HQ-based initiative to apply the lessons learned in Mexico to that production line in China.’

‘Impressive. So, what are your findings about us, in Veghel?’

‘Now you’re fishing for compliments, John. Veghel did the first implementation so you guys had a head start. And I’m sorry to be blunt, but the Dutch aren’t exactly afraid to speak their mind. They will make improvement proposals even when everything is fine.’

John chuckles. ‘So, what is the reason for your call?’

New dashboard in development

‘Because you guys have a head start and aren’t afraid to share your opinion, I want to involve Veghel in the next step. EZ Factory called me: they are developing an add-on that allows us to develop a global dashboard. This would eliminate the need for building our own interfaces and computer models, and instead introduce a global dashboard that all locations can be plugged into.

‘Sounds a bit Big Brother, Wolfgang. Are you sure everyone will be up for it?’

‘Big Brother? Not in the least! Locations get to use the dashboard themselves.’

So I can see what Mexico is doing and compare with my own data?’

‘Exactly! Although I doubt that you will personally want to see all the numbers, but it will be a gold mine for your CI manager. You’ll be able to configure alerts as well. So, if your numbers deviate substantially from other locations, you will see it and be able to investigate. Well, I’m getting ahead of myself here. After all, the whole thing still has to be built. But if we get involved, we will have a say in the functionality of such a dashboard.’

John is now sitting on the edge of his seat. He imagines himself in a control room with beeps and lights and statistics. If anything at all has improved anywhere in the world, he wants it in Veghel! He exclaims: ‘I’m in!’

‘Easy there’, says Wolfgang, ‘I’m not hearing impaired. But I take it you see the possibilities. Want to hear some more good news? There are even talks about a social element, where branches get to share their ideas and performance and ask each other questions. This brings China and Brazil a lot closer.’

John responds: ‘Sounds amazing’, now distracted by Bianca as she scolds her pupil Youssef on the floor. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t escalate.

‘OK, fabelhaft, I will add you to the steering committee and send over some information by email. The first online meeting is next week. See you then, good to have you on board!’

‘I do have to check…’

Wolfgang hung up the phone.

‘…with my production manager.’ John smiles. A year ago he was standing where Bianca is standing right now, and was wondering whether they couldn’t organise those tasks on the floor a bit more efficiently. They could. Not only that, they had proceeded to automate AM tasks, inspections and audits in EZ-GO, which ended up saving huge amounts of time while boosting safety, quality and productivity. Today, he is a team leader and using the statistics from the platform on a daily basis in order to monitor and improve processes. And now, he is about to work with an international team to set up a global dashboard to further optimise this factory. He is sitting alone, smiling, when Bianca comes barging in looking like thunder.

‘What are you grinning about?’, she snaps at him.

He doesn’t respond, but puts an arm around her shoulder. ‘We’re doing well, Bianca. And we’re going to do even better, because we will be learning from Mexico and Portugal and China.

‘How are those relevant to us?’

‘In more ways than you can imagine.’

 

*Jungle Power Drinks is a fictitious organisation. Read the previous stories about this fast-growing company here.

 

This is part of a serial about the fictitious company Jungle Power Drinks. By describing their experiences with AO and the EZ-GO app, we demonstrate the possibilities to improve the safety, quality and productivity of the operation. Read part one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine here.

 

Randy Appiah

Robert Bouwman

EZ Factory founders

 

If you want more information on how to implement Autonomous Maintenance within your factory, or take it to the next level: our partner Pontifexx can help you. Visit their website for more information: https://www.pontifexx.nl/.

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