“Get more out of less”
Customers’ requirements are constantly increasing towards better and more individualized products and services with shorter delivery time while allowing a continuously declining price.
Therefore, focusing on productivity and cost is now more than ever a necessity in order to be a proactive and competitive participant in the global value chains of the future.
4IMPROVE sees productivity in a 4 +1 context. We observe productivity from four different perspectives – employees, machines, materials and the company’s manufacturing and business processes. As the fifth and more independent element, 4IMPROVE has over the past 10 years developed, tested and refined a method of identifying, documenting and targeting potentials based on the individual company and the capabilities of each of the four previous improvement areas.
Our approach ensures value-added changes with lasting effect. This is achieved by combining:
- A realistic, documented and prioritized assessment.
- A well-proven “change engine” that provides anchored solutions.
- A Change Management approach which, in addition to focusing on profit creation, takes both the building of structural improvements and the necessary differences in the change engine due to possible, cultural differences, into account.
4IMPROVE has well-defined toolboxes and extensive experience in optimizing productivity within:
Materials – ”A look in the container can show the way”
4IMPROVE focuses on optimizing the proportion of input materials that are converted to products within the quality specifications. Depending on the industry, this discipline is rarely the main focus in Western Europe despite major potential savings.
4IMPROVE has extended experience with involving company employees for the identification and challenge of all kinds of material waste through the internal flow (commodity waste, startup waste, machining waste, waste in general, transportation and handling damage, etc.).
Bill Of Material Optimization:
Depending on the industry, challenging the Bill Of Material can be a key driver for optimizing material utilization.
Typically, the process will lead to further optimization through focus on technology choices, commodity purchases and the material procurement process.
Machines – ”where the value is created”
Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE):
For measurement and optimization of machine utilization, 4IMPROVE uses a theory that expresses the efficiency of production equipment relative to the maximum achievable.
The KPI is composed of three elements:
- The availability rate measures downtime losses from equipment failures and adjustments as a percentage of scheduled time.
- The performance rate measures operating speed losses—running at speeds lower than design speed and stoppages lasting a few seconds.
- The quality rate expresses losses due to scrap and rework as a percentage of total parts run.
Availability closely correlates with the reliability of production equipment, hence we ensure interaction with the company’s maintenance function and Production Engeneering in its optimization.
Another significant part of the loss of machine utilization is typically seen in upgrades and conversions, where 4IMPROVE successfully uses tools and elements from SMED-thinking in the typical optimization.
The greatest potential in optimizing machine efficiency is often seen when we challenge the machines’ production speed. Knowledge and focus on NPC (Name Plate Capacity) will typically set new limits for machine output requirements.
4IMPROVE’s approach to the quality dimension often results in a division between ensuring the machines’ capability and a focus on instruction and aids for optimal alignment of the production plants.
People – ”our most important ressource”
4IMPROVE uses a well-proven screening tool to articulate the non productive activities in the production, and to inspire improvements. Typically, potentials of 20-30% can be realized. Experience indicates that only half of the available production time is applied to activities that create value for customers.
Working hours Optimization:
4IMPROVE uses partly an “outside-in” perspective in mapping and optimization of the proportion of the paid hours, ending with present time in production and a calculation of how much of the time that is used directly for production.
Based on the productive proportion of working hours, 4IMPROVE ensures optimal working time utilization such as optimized instructional basis and implementation of methods for employee-involved problem solving.
4IMPROVE works structured with mapping and development of the company’s employee skills. Based on the needs of each company, specific competency development processes aiming at flexibility and productivity improvements are executed.
4IMPROVE works with all facets in the company’s journey towards an established culture based on ongoing improvements. 4IMPROVE’s contribution may consist in establishing effective teams, implementation of board meetings as the crank of the enhancement engine, or the implementation of systematic tools for identification, prioritization and / or resolution of improvement potentials.
Processes – ”Avoid silo thinking”
In order to ensure synergy and counteract suboptimization, 4IMPROVE works with process mapping and optimization that identifies possible improvements based on the establishment of a smooth, fast and quality-proof process across the organization. The waste in the processes can be widely different combinations of turnaround time, resource features, error production, quality deficiencies not perceived as errors, financial inconveniences, etc.
Best practise / Benchmark:
When multiple concurrent processes or several employees work with the same process, we identify best practice and benchmark in order to develop the most optimal future processes, which are subsequently rolled out across the company’s organization.
Management Concept / Planning:
In an expanded collaboration with the organization and across the company’s processes we design and implement production management concepts with a holistic approach. Optimizing the management based on an optimal combination of pull patterns, planning points, warehouse placement and dimensioning, pull / push production and planning methods among other things.
The combination of multiple product launches and customer demand for customization will increase the number of products. For many companies, several products in the program results in complexity. Modularization is one way to meet the customers’ requests for customized products without minimizing the size of the underlying production and thus harming profitability. 4IMPROVE uses modularization as a method of balancing market demands, product programs, production requirements and cost optimization.
4IMPROVE’s approach to Make or Buy tasks is based on the strategic core competencies and focuses on thorough data analysis in real-time identification of the actual drop-out costs. The combination of a fact-based approach and “sanity check” counteracts decisions based on “Funny Money” which can never be realized.
Quality management has over the past decades gone from being a differentiation parameter to being a qualifier that is perceived by customers as a basic prerequisite. Nevertheless, quality development is a never-ending discipline, and 4IMPROVE’s quality competences range from the “Plug the hole” approach, where quality failures are internally hampered and the causes are identified and eliminated, to tasks in implementing certifiable quality management elements.
Assessment – ”Temperature of your business”
An assessment result is a summary of optimization options, an assessment of the financial consequences and a wave plan for realization. (#Link to potential check)
A typical 4IMPROVE assessment contains more than the focus areas of productivity (employees, machines, materials, and processes). A complete 4IMPROVE assessment identifies potentials in the areas of internal logistics (management concepts, planning, storage, use of IT systems, etc.) and external logistics (sourcing, supplier setup, service concept and business model).
The following describes the productivity features.
An initial analysis of the company’s accounts, KPIs, organization and reporting structure resulting in the consultants’ general loading in the company and where it is possible to form a benchmarking in accordance with 4IMPROVE’s experiences.
Outside – In:
Outside – In analyzes describe where the company is in contact with its close environment, such as sourcing and supplier portfolios, product quality and customer complaints, employee productivity (step 1), material utilization (through mass balance where this is possible) etc.
Inside – Out:
The inside-out perspective is, contrary to the above, analyzes based on the company’s internal circumstances, describing the productivity potential. These analyzes are typically a mixture of observations and data analysis and could consist of:
- OEE observations / analyzes / approaches on the company’s key machines.
- Productivity screening of employees.
- Observed material waste and potential improvements.
- Stock observations and obsolence.
Business Development Through Tomorrow’s Technology
Today, only parts of corporate processes are digitized, often challenging the ability to make correct strategic and operational decisions. Increased digitalization supports and strengthens the company’s decision base and enhances competitiveness by collecting real-time information and model decisions to optimize processes.
What are tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities?
The trend is clear, companies find that customers have increased expectations for new products, product variants, short delivery times and small order sizes. The increased complexity requires new agility, adaptability and alignment in corporate processes, where a crucial competitive parameter will be the ability of companies to translate new opportunities into practice. This requires new skills. Studies show that internal competencies are a barrier to translating opportunities into action, especially when it comes to exploitation of digitization opportunities. The evolution of digitization takes place at a rapid rate, and at 4IMPROVE we are looking at digitalization from these angles:
- Digital development plan
- Physical and digital product flow
- Synchronized production and supply chain
- Automation and competencies
Interesting business opportunities and future requirements are of course individual from business to business, but starting the journey is a natural access card for the future.
Digital development plan
In a world of increased turbulence, it is necessary that the strategic role of production is clearly defined. It is essential that the company’s management assumes ownership for both short and long-term developments. However, companies often fail to think of digitization opportunities into a strategic business context, and often work with limited systems, personal excel sheets and manual registrations.
4IMPROVE performs a complete assessment of your company’s digital structure and makes it operational in a digital development plan.
The digital development plan will ensure that the company’s digitalization capabilities translate into genuine business value.
Physical and digital product flow
At 4IMPROVE, we have developed a Digitized Value Stream Map, which provides the basis for mapping and potential clarification of the company’s possibilities within physical and digital product flow. To achieve full utilization and transparency in enterprise processes and data sources, 4IMPROVE always works to connect electronic data capture with a Business Intelligence tool, allowing the company to prioritize efforts and make fact-based decisions.
Our clients’ capabilities within digitization must always be converted to genuine business value. Elements of physical and digital information flow could be:
- Electronic data capture
- Automated Business Intelligence / CPI reporting
- Data driven continuous improvements
Synchronized production and supply chain
For many years, we have created sustainable results in many companies where business development is supported by a system integration between production and the rest of the supply chain. Synchronization takes place based on a clear strategic direction and high transparency in the company’s processes and data sources.
Items of synchronized production and supply chain could be:
- Vendor Managed Inventory
- Use of online sales data for planning and distribution
- Product configuration at order time
Increased system integration provides unique benefits to increasing predictability and prioritizing efforts.
However, we often find that companies need help to realize the full potential, as increased system integration provides unique opportunities to optimize existing business processes for synchronization between production and supply chain.
Automation and competences
We experience great interest in increased automation in our client’s production. Automation, however, is more than just the acquisition of one or more robots. 4IMPROVE bases automation on a business angle, which ensures unbiased advice on purchase of automation equipment and future process flow. At 4IMPROVE, we believe that business opportunities within automation should always be converted to significant business value, which requires focus on the company’s business model, internal competencies, training and existing business processes.
Automation should not only support existing processes, but also be a catalyst for change. Elements related to automation and competencies:
- The company’s business model
- Internal competencies
In the future, the demands for your supply to the markets will change even more rapidly. Deciding new competitive footprints, defined by markets, cost, technology etc, is evident for your business. Many companies underestimate the difficulties of transferring or establishing production and distribution centers and miss out on expected benefits. 4IMPROVE offers competent consulting in the decision process and experienced consultants to execute the transfers.
Optimization of the manufacturing (and warehousing) footprint is a complex process, where many elements must be taken into account. To slice the process, we work with three steps for a new footprint implementation;
- The decision process
- Three things: Plan, plan and plan
Below is a description of the steps, and how we see a full implementation of a new manufacturing/warehouse set up.
The process for decision.
The management needs to define the overall scope for a decision process, which typical will include:
- The new set-up’s criteria for success
- Review of the business model
- Road map for products and customers
- Limitation (asset utilization, speed for the process, onetime cost etc.)
We collect data related to the business and financial performance e.g.:
- Business requirement and profitability
- Manufacturing and warehouse capabilities and profitability
- Procurement and make/buy options
- Implementation cost/closing costs
- Storage and distribution.
Based on this information, we create a scenario calculation based on greenfield thinking, followed up with a more pragmatic solution conclusion with speed and cost limitations.
Essential elements are retention of good customers and future opportunities to take a step up and include the total cost for the new set-up. High costs are involved in a new set-up, so risk management is crucial from the start.
Plan, plan, plan
Once the plan is approved and we have managed a good stakeholder process to anchor the decision, the process of working out a thorough plan begins. Topics to be planned:
- Sales transfer plan
- Supplier plan
- Capacity and run down model
- Milestone planning (timing and sequence)
- Workforce restructuring plan
- Communication plan
- Financial model
Simplifying the set-up before the transfer can be beneficial as well as having some spare capacity to handle the unforeseen.
Announcing the plan is the point of no return. Now you must work closely with your customer and your employees to build confidence in the plan and process. Communication is typical an underestimated task in this type of projects.
Transfer projects are complex, and changing the plan on the fly is not recommended because the risk to miss or fail increase dramatically when you are under pressure.
Last but not least, if you have built the plan on wishful thinking, it will be visible for all, if you have made the plan proper and mitigated risk, you will receive the benefits.
Manufacturing & Distribution Strategy
Manufacturing in a strategic context. Answering the strategic “HOW”
We help define your manufacturing and warehousing strategy, making your business ambitions come to live. The mission and business ambitions of your company are implemented through delivering products and services to your customers, fulfilling defined Key Success Factors. The operation is completing your Business Model, by mirroring your commercial ambition into physical structures and actions.
The manufacturing strategy must address central elements like: Roles, technology, right-shoring and competences. Sub strategies for key areas must be aligned and integrated into a solid and consistent strategy for manufacturing and warehousing.
Structure based on operational tasks.
The production function can undertake various roles that in diverse ways link production to other functions in the company. We analyze and identify the current production roles, and help designing and implementing new competitive production roles.
- Full-scale production: Secures that production meet market requirements on quality, time, costs and agility
- Benchmarking production: The objective is to maintain a sufficient production to build knowledge about quality, cost structures and capabilities to specify and develop global sourcing
- Ramp-up production: Secures cost-effective time-to-market processes and robust, scalable solutions. But requires close interaction between production, product development and sale
- Prototype production: Requires close interaction between production, product development, sale and sourcing to develop and realize new prototypes
- Laboratory production: Requires close interaction between production and R&D in order to develop and test new processes, materials and/or technologies.
Merging Mechanical and Digital possibilities.
Defining the architecture of your technology and digitalization development, will enhance your business model. In the future, production equipment will not only have increased physical capabilities, but will merge with digital technologies. The technological road map must balance CAPEX and OPEX support plus the defined Key Success Factors and – levelling technical capabilities with human competences. Planning of investments must respect anticipated developments in regional labor costs and expected technological development.
Producing in the right place at the right time.
Right-shoring denotes the right balance of moving manufacturing out or back, or reshoring it to another location. Right-shoring is of strategic importance due to volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous business environments, national instability and other risk factors – or simply market requests for local content.
Important aspects of a manufacturing strategy are:
- Make or Buy
- Localization strategies
We can help analyzing the current manufacturing setup and design and implement new competitive manufacturing footprints, which sustain corporate strategy.
The main asset of any company
Obviously, the human factor is the foundation for running and developing the operation. Internal and external requirements, skills and competences and cultural aspects are all issues which must be addressed. While evaluating organizational and personal possibilities, along with footprint and role, the following factors must be considered:
- Salary development (cost)
- National literacy rate (competence level)
- 3DCE (3D Concurrent Engineering)
- Political stability
We help you map and define your organization and your future capabilities.
Additive manufacturing also known as 3D-printing is “the new black” in industrial manufacturing
It is difficult to see any area within production technologies where things are developing more rapidly than in additive manufacturing. Producing by adding material instead of removing it – the process is layer by layer built-up of melted material into a solid structure based on a CAD model.
The obvious areas of additive manufacturing have changed from being typically prototyping to include parts with high complexity geometries and production of small batch sizes.
Apart from removing some of the traditional manufacturing constraints from the design and production process, the technology also has introduced varied materials such as SLS-Nylon, carbon fiber, reinforced metal and high detail resins.
Additive manufacturing technology can (depending of the physical product) be cost efficient due to:
- Reduced material consumption (ad on instead of removal of material).
- Reduced demand for different specialized machines (typically the more specialized the less utilized).
- Reduced cost of machining itself
- Easier Plug & Play production eliminating the need for huge spare part inventories.
- A super agile value chain without jeopardizing cost or quality.
4IMPROVE helps identifying potential areas, where focusing on additive manufacturing can be a business development disrupter.
Areas for utilization
In the 1980’s additive manufacturing was most commonly used in rapid prototyping, low volume production and creating models for illustrative purposes.
Today, the typical scope of application for additive manufacturing are areas where downtime is resulting in significant economic losses. In other cases, a global distribution of assets could be the trigger for looking into the benefits of additive manufacturing.
This could be, but are not limited to, the following industries:
- Oil & Gas
- Service and spare part businesses
Production technologies and materials are developing so fast that new areas of utilizing additive manufacturing are appearing frequently.
4IMPROVE assists in identifying areas where additive manufacturing either can be a supplement to existing production technologies or substitute the manufacturing processes. Our main aim typically includes cost optimization, reduction in capital employed, fast and agile delivery etc.
Different polymers (ABS, PLA or Polycarbonate) are currently the most popular materials used in additive manufacturing. Which polymers to use depends on the item requirements for rigidity, flexibility and surface properties.
Additive manufacturing using metals is usually based on steel, stainless steel, gold silver or titanium. Depending of the choice of process technology, compounds can also be used.
More unusually materials for 3D-printing is covering both glass (requires special technology and process), chocolate and even living tissue printed from fluid stem cells.
In the future, it is difficult to see the limitations for use of additive manufacturing both regarding market, materials and production technologies.
4IMPROVE assists in identifying business areas where change of technology or material substitution can be a lever for entering additive manufacturing.
The 3D-printing is based on products designed in a CAD software, which is “translated” enabling the printer to transform it into movements. After aligning the size and orientation, the printer gradually builds up the item layer by layer (depending on the structure) typically in a thickness of approximately 0,1 mm.
In general, there are two types of additive manufacturing processes:
- 3D printing by sintering process uses a laser to heat up the printing material to just below its full melting point. This makes the material fluid enough to merge with the previous layer and later set as a solid layer of the image printed. The advantage of the sintering process is the possibility of printing with alloys.
- 3D printing by fully melting process is when the printing material is heated up to its fully melting point. Metals alloys are not suitable for the full melting process due to difference in melting temperatures. The advantage of melting process is a smoother surface.
4IMPROVE assists in a total approach of additive manufacturing starting from aligning with manufacturing strategies via defined business processes to choosing and implementing appropriate production technology.