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Lean implementation in a chemical company enabling its growth by becoming a quality market leader

Global lubrication additives & synthetic base fluids manufacturer (Business unit of a major chemical group).

Situation at the start

The company is a manufacturer of  foruse in automotive and industrial lubricants, distributed in Europe, Africa, Mideast, North America, South America, and the Asia Pacific. Delivering efficient lubrication solutions they innovate and contribute to a growing portfolio of energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly formulation solutions.

The challenge

The client’s strategic aim was to significantly increase its revenue within a 5 year time period. Next to important components like focused demand development or broadening the scope of products & services, a major lever to achieve the required competitiveness was leadership in quality. At that time however, there was no clear and aligned understanding of what comprehensive and client-centric quality leadership would entail & how to get there. In workshops, site and customer visits as well as using analysis findings from benchmarks/market intelligence data a customer centric quality vision was developed. To make this vision become reality, 5 specific strategic initiatives as well as measurements of success were deter-mined. While 4 of the 5 initiatives were covered by internal experts and resources, EFESO was chosen to drive the so called Lean Initiative with the aim to become world class leader for oil additives products.

The goal

First step of the journey was to give the global leadership team as well as selected site leaders a live impression of how the result of an Operational Excellence Transformation can look like. Based on those reference visits, the conviction evolved in the team, that EFESO WCOM system would be the right path to follow.

Decision was made to start first with 2 pilot sites in France and Singapore which should serve as practical proof of concept (followed after by sites in e.g. Germany and the US). The deployment followed a 3-phased approach:

  • Phase 1 – Preparation and foundation implementation: understand site-specific improvement areas to focus on, engage & mobilize the organisation, install first foundational elements and Quick Wins to gain momentum
  • Phase 2 – Pilot: setup and coach teams to address identified losses, develop internal coordinators and visual performance management system
  • Phase 3 – Expansion: select & install priority pillar teams per site to embed systematically the “improvement engine” in the organisational structure

When looking at the specific activities and components within the deployments, it is possible to cluster this around the following 3 topics:

  • Process Excellence: Teams could build on standard WCOM methodology, but then customizing the application to the specific Chemical Industry environment. This allowed to effectively leverage benefits of e.g. Autonomous Management & 5S, focused asset reliability and First Pass Quality improvements. Internal teams were trained & coached in the application of improvements routes in order to build capability
  • Performance Management: part of this module was the design and implementation of more effective Performance Management system (PCS). An Obeyaroom was installed with boards @ different levels and a closed loop system of meetings feeding information and drive fact-based decision making
  • People Engagement: following Human Dynamics Best Practices, several components were put in place to effectively drive change. These modules ranged from leadership Gembawalks engaging the shop floor, behavioural coaching @ meetings to psychometric models to understand personalities in site leadership team & find ways to improve collaboration 

Putting strategy into action

« Boosting performance by acting on Value, Flow, Asset and People dynamics»

Together with EFESO Management Consultants , the Global Performance Program was developed and executed, by means of a number of streams, including but not limited to the following:

1 – Advanced Problem Solving leveraging on young resources

  • Operational Excellence is a subject that is relevant to top management and requires involvement and support from that top management during implementation.

2 – Decide on the best approach

  • A Green Belt Lean-6sigma program across the 3 Companies was implemented to couple the resolution of a large number of technology/product issues with a training plan on advanced DMAIC techniques. Young people improved their motivation and expertise, and senior management gained a thorough view on high potentials.

2– Cross-functional integration and Projects performances

  • Execution of projects and cross-functional coordination was improved by introducing Program Management Office techniques and by implementing improvement approaches including Lean Design, Design to Cost, Risk management, Reporting & Control and soft Change management. A new organization to enhance project performance was rolled-out.

3– Should Cost

  • The cost competitiveness of key products was aligned to market expectations by implementing cross-functional and synergic optimization of requirements, functions, design, industrialization, production and service.

4 – Manufacturing Excellence

  • Culture, engagement and performance in production were changed by combining kaizen and WCM approaches, expanding initial successes and convincing all people through results.

5 – Procurement Excellence

  • Evolved mission and approaches were introduced to change supplier strategies, procurement integration with engineering and production, and relationship with suppliers. Optimization of external spend has been the major contributor to the Program payback in the short term.

6 – Quality improvement

  • New analytical capabilities were introduced and the overall process was reshaped in the perspective of Quality through the value chain and contribution to product maturity.

Deliver concrete results

« Improving your results today, securing your results for tomorrow »

After more than 2 years of running the programme, the sites within the network have developed into benchmarks around Safety, Workplace cleanliness/orga-nisationand efficiency within the group. Last, but not least, the workforce has really embraced the programme as their way of working – or as the program slogan developed by Operators describes it: “ME starts with ME.”

« EFESO, a new consulting experience »