Our Client is a manufacturing business. They were concerned about lowering productivity in plant with several KPIs taking a turn for worse over previous 12 months. The workforce exhibited signs of exhaustion and morale was low. Customer feedback was more on negative side with quality of service declining and revenue being lost to competition. Health and Safety standards were also a concern. A few months before, Client had implemented a Continuous Improvement (CI) effort in a “model area” with limited success.
To regain control over main production indicators in short to medium term, whilst setting strategic long-term goal of introducing a more solid culture of continuous improvement (CI). Through our chosen solution, we planned to bring people together from different business areas such as operations, support functions and engineering services and aligned them in pursuit of a common goals & objectives (e.g. the introduction of operational excellence), whilst promoting a “go-see” culture. We also wanted to complement the “model area” efforts with a “bird’s eye view” of plant as a whole, thus accelerating pace of change and to provide a clearer steer to Client as to what to look out for during a CI transformation.
We decided to deploy a method called “Read a Plant” (RAP) as our chosen diagnostic tool that would allow us to summarize “as-is” situation. We agreed with Client that this tool would provide a solid foundation for the CI roadmap that was to come in future along with a comprehensive action plan for improvement. We also thought that using RAP on a regular basis (typically every 4-6 weeks) would support existing though embryonic CI efforts taking place within plant, integrating RAP’s output(s) within existing governance mechanisms which in itself needed to become more robust and more effective.
Originally designed to quickly gauge potentials for acquisition of a new plant as well as to understand competitors’ operations, RAP is a tool derived from manufacturing, though is applicable to many other types of work environments.
Tool includes 11 Categories: (1) Customer Satisfaction, (2) Safety and Housekeeping, (3) Visual Management, (3) Scheduling, (4) Materials Handling, (5) Flow, (6) Inventory, (7) Teamwork, (8) Maintenance, (9) Management of Variability, (10) Supply Chain integration and (11) Quality.
In close collaboration with Client, we selected team members who would act as “champions” and allocated them to lead on specific strands of RPA categories based on their subject matter expertise. We even involved local trade unions rep. Through our joint efforts, tool fostered team work and functional interdependence and lent itself very well as basis for creation of forthcoming Continuous Improvement Team. We followed process summarized below.
By deploying our mutually agreed CI roadmap and following application of 11 RAP Principles, we were able to review and design a better, cleaner and healthier work environment. We implemented 5S and Visual Management in every work area, and engaged with trade union representative along journey. It was so exciting to see a greater sense of personal ownership and accountability developing, as well as a commitment to improve each of RAP Principles. One Read a Plant Champion was trained and assigned to each of 11 improvement pillars to ensure sustainability.