Operational excellence
Industrie Experte Alexander Stern mit Triebwerk im Hintergrund

Julia Grobe

Expert Industry 4.0

Julia Grobe (M. A. Language and Communication) has worked in various medium-sized and large industrial companies, focusing in particular on the fields of application of future-oriented technologies in agricultural engineering, mechanical engineering and the automation industry.

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Time: 8 min


The eight key elements of operational excellence

from Julia Grobe | 08.06.2020
Operational Excellence – the term coined by Kevin J. Duggan is, by any stretch of the imagination, nothing new. Nevertheless, operational excellence is more relevant than ever, especially now. While digitization is completely calling established business models into question, redefining them or completely replacing them, the pressure on industrial companies is increasing. The customer has long since determined what is produced, in what quality and at what price. Long gone are the days when the market offered what was possible and the customer used existing portfolios for his own purposes.
What is operational excellence?
Through operational excellence, companies can win the fierce competition for customers. What exactly excellence is is ultimately also defined by the customer – by deciding on a particular offer. It is therefore important for every company to continuously improve its own operational performance in every area. In theory, this is quite simple: all you have to do is omit all unnecessary things, concentrate on the essentials and keep checking again and again where you can become even leaner – i.e. remain dynamic.

„Obviously, perfection doesn’t come when you have nothing more to add, but when you can’t take anything away,“ as the French writer and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry already knew in the first half of the 20th century.

There are approaches for more minimalism and higher efficiency in production plants like sand on the sea: the palette ranges from Lean Management to Six Sigma to Business Process Reengineering – to name but a few. The decisive factor for sustainable success, however, is above all the consistent and targeted implementation of measures to achieve operational excellence.

This requires a lot of discipline and the avoidance of the following waste.

The eight key elements of operational excellence

Paper-based and static work instructions and checklists are an enormous driver for non-value-adding efforts in production. Paper checklists fulfill virtually all the potential sources of waste as described below. Not only that paper documents are physically transported, archived and stored which results in unnecessary travel times and search efforts. Furthermore, complex document release processes also cause waiting times for employees before these processes can be conducted according to the defined standard. Besides, the usual text-heaviness can lead to misinterpretations and consequently result in costly rework. All in all, paper-based and static process documentation leads to a broad range of inefficencies.
Calculate the savings potential through operational excellence in industrial process documentation here

The eight key elements of operational excellence

1. Transport

Long and poorly planned transports reduce the profitability of any product. Therefore, take a targeted look at how you serve your sales markets, whether local production is worthwhile, or how transport costs can be reduced.

2. Inventory

Rent or buy? How long do you need a machine? Is the purchase worthwhile or is there perhaps an attractive leasing offer for a short period of time? Is it possible to buy a used production machine and retrofit it, or is it possible to turn your unused inventory into money? Check permanently what you really need and create space for the relevant objects or the freedom of movement of your employees.

3. Movement

What are the routes of your employees during operation? Check movement profiles and, above all, the time required for movements from one place to another. Is it worth redesigning your production to make necessary paths more efficient?

4. Waiting times

Waiting time means stagnation. During this time you pay your employees, but do nothing for you, because the machine stands still. Reduce changeover times and check which activities your employees can perform during a production downtime. Perhaps your employee can even help with the retooling with the help of suitable instructions and thus save expensive external personnel.

5. Overproduction

Anyone who produces too much not only bears the additional costs of materials, but also usually has to pay for the disposal of overproduction. Precise calculations are particularly worthwhile in times of small batch sizes. In this way you waste fewer resources and contribute to greater sustainability for society.

6. Over-processing

Are all production steps really necessary to finish a product? Is it possible to do without certain steps or to optimize them and thus reduce the production time and effort? In particular, ask the employees who work on a product on a daily basis about their specific optimization suggestions. You will be amazed at the potential that lies not only in your workshops, but above all in your colleagues.

7. Errors and defects

This aspect hardly needs explanation. Errors and defects of any kind slow down production, reduce the quality of your products and, in the worst case, lead to considerable costs. Find out here how to keep the quality of your work constantly high.

8. Unused talent

Inefficient use of human capital is one of the biggest brakes on productivity. Employees who are not deployed in accordance with their qualifications can quickly destroy cash, regardless of whether they are over- or underchallenged with their task – unmotivated employees will not help you achieve operational excellence.

With digital work instructions and checklists to operational excellence. Read in our whitepaper how our software solution can support you!

At a glance:

Digital Production for for Industry leader

Werker mit Schutzequipment führt Tätigkeit in der Produktion durch.
With digital work instructions and checklists to operational excellence. Read in our whitepaper how our software solution can support you!

At a glance

Work Instruction 4.0

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cioplenu is the software for digital work instructions and checklists in industry. With cioplenu you put an end to the cumbersome creation in Word, Excel or PowerPoint and the use of paper printouts in production. From clipboard to tablet, from complexity to simplicity, from blind spot to transparency.