Our client Safran, a leading Aerospace & Defense supplier to two of the industry’s heavyweights – Airbus and Boeing – was facing one of its greatest challenges in recent years: to increase productivity by 50%. They had to hit a new rate of delivery, producing 12 units per month, up from the eight they had been producing to date.
To compound, their factory had already been working some level of overtime to produce at the current rate. Failure to meet their targets meant significant pressure from their customers and additional risk to those business relationships. Further increasing overtime to hit new targets wasn’t really an option. They needed to find a solution and fast.
To meet this challenge head-on, the client approached us to conduct a Lean assessment of their manufacturing process. Our objective was to perform a gap-analysis which allowed us to compare our client’s current performance with their desired ‘to-be’ or future state. From this point, the team could quantify and validate previously identified areas of improvement, as well as to discover new ones that would help them to achieve their goal.
We adapted our Lean Innovation Framework for project delivery to complete a full end-to-end study of their unit manufacturing processes. Starting with a Lean Assessment, the team compared current performance of the entire assembly line against operational standards to see how they could be made more efficient. There were several key enablers for the success of the engagement, highlighted in more detail below.
One key consideration was the need to ensure that the day-to-day operations of the manufacturing team were not impacted by our presence. The team needed to seamlessly integrate with client employees, observing their processes and ways of working, allowing us to glean important insights, without interfering with or interrupting their work.
Covering both night and weekend shifts the team observed the entire lifecycle during the production boost tests. The team utilized this opportunity to discover any wasteful or non-value-added activities; those activities which reduced the efficiency of the manufacturing process.
However, the team also focused on identifying ways the client could derive additional value. What are the continuous improvement actions that could provide a step-change in performance? Due to the tight integration with the workforce on the night and weekend shifts, key individuals were forthcoming with their experiences, helping the MI-GSO | PCUBED team to identify barriers to efficiency only they would know.
The second critical enabler in our Lean Assessment was data. We focused on quantifying the improvement benefits; backing up each of our improvement recommendations with rich, insightful data, in order to secure senior management buy-in. To do this, we carefully monitored and timed each process in the assembly line, noting where there were deviations from the standard process, or where activities had taken longer than they should have.
Our team then took the time to meet with each specific stakeholder in the senior management team to understand their needs and tailor the metrics accordingly. By delivering custom reports, the top-level stakeholders were able to hone in on the information important to them. Finally, when presenting the recommendations, our team ensured that all data was accurate, rigorous and meaningful and that the improvements identified were realistically achievable.
The richness of the data collected meant that the team could confidently say how much time each improvement would save, giving Safran a clear picture of how and when they could reach their desired output. Moreover, the team was able to hand over data that the client fully embraced as ‘their own’.
To learn more about Lean Innovation in application, read the:
Delivering Value for a Rapidly Changing Business case study.
The final key enabler of this Lean Innovation engagement was rapid review cycles. Alongside the observation and benefits quantification work streams, the team conducted weekly reviews, a staple of Lean-Agile projects like this one. This allowed the team to deliver the data-driven insights for quick decision making with the client and then mobilize action within days of opportunity identification. Given the imperative to increase production, identifying immediate improvements was essential.
After over 4000 hours spent observing the assembly line, the MI-GSO | PCUBED team identified and validated nearly 1,400 hours of time savings. The team was able to discover areas of improvement in partnership with the client that would help them comfortably reach their goal.
At the end of the Lean Innovation assessment, the team left our client with more than 75 improvement actions for implementation. Upon execution, those improvement actions will net the client a further 20% reduction in overtime and an additional 30% savings beyond the target for this project.
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