Excellence is not an act but habit

Excellence is not an act but habit

A MNC of Swedish country located in Rajpur Village of Mehsana District, 40 kms from Ahmedabad, produces Cold Finished Seamless Stainless Steel Austenitic and Duplex Instrumentation and Heat-exchanger Tubes, Hot Extruded Pipes, Hollow Bars and Redraw Hollows – all manufactured under one roof.

It is a high-technology, engineering group with advanced products. Worldwide business activities are conducted through representation in more than 130 countries. In 2010 the Group had 47,000 employees enthusiastically working for achieving Business Excellence. It’s  products would be based on high value content & are developed in close cooperation with customers.

This organization has, over the years, evolved its own manufacturing systems named SMT Business System and has a team of Lean Manufacturing Navigators who go all over their facilities and facilitate the implementation of SMT business systems. Quality is the guiding principle in the global operations.

Recalls one of the managers of the facility; “…no one seemed to know that Sandvik Asia dealt in steel. It was known for tooling products. We realized that we had to work from scratch to establish the SANDVIK brand in steel arena..” The journey of achieving vision of becoming our gateway to Asian’s tube world started then.

They firmly believed in 3 factors –

  • Open Mind,
  • Fairy play and
  • Team spirit

Open mindedness always helped them to have a positive frame of mind to frequent changes in the market, encourage new ideas and look for improvement opportunities.

Fair play meant equal opportunities, fair trade, respect to individual and concern for environment

Team spirit meant progressing in a secured manner with enthusiastic support and trust from co-workers

As it is widely said, 5S is the foundation for every improvement program. They realized it and with the support from SMT Business System, practicing it day in and day out. “Although we had our own 5S implementation system, we learnt a lot from Kaizen Institute on 5S and the auditing process that helped us further enhance our 5S implementation..” says the Continuous Improvement Manager. The physical environment that is unlike in the other tube manufacturing units proves to be a morale booster for all the employees. They proudly claims that It is the only plant in India which follows international standards of manufacturing, safety, cleanliness for the premises and the manpower.

With the growing demands of the customers and expansion in the market, output from the equipments proved a bottleneck. With the equipments functioning more than four decades, the reliability of the equipment remained highly uncertain and the schedule of meeting the customers’ demands were always not met. They felt that there is a lot of hidden potential within the equipments waiting to be exploited. So, they invited Kaizen Institute to implement TPM practices in their facility. Although they had an internal Lean implementation team, the open mindedness approach of Sandvik allowed them to utilize the services of Kaizen Institute in implementing TPM for their critical equipments. The TPM journey got kicked-off in August 2010 with Kaizen Institute facilitating Sandvik.

One of the managers says, “Initially, we thought that TPM would be another management jargon however, once the implementation started and the benefits started coming in, we sincerely feel that this is a very important tool that is essentially required to implement Lean production system”.

“In the beginning, we used to say in lighter vein that we are producing pipes now from tags and not from machines. The tagging exercise is an eye-opener! We never realized that we were operating the machines with so many abnormalities. Indeed, this (TPM) has given us a new lens to look at things…” says another employee of Sandvik.

“Tagging & maintaining a Tag register was indeed useful. Repeatedly, during tagging, we found broken parts near the brake assembly in Pilger machine. Later, we found that the brake lining has developed a crack. Tagging helped us prevent a major breakdown in this regard..” says the Deputy Manager of Maintenance department.

“To be frank, we never thought that we could do so much in 5 days and tagging today (on the first GKW) proved that we can do a lot in GKWs. One Point Lesson is an effective tool that can be used to teach the existing employees and new comers as well..” says our KAIZEN™ coordinator.

Accessibility improvement is another important factor we learnt in autonomous maintenance. Our Cellar areas were thoroughly neglected place. We always thought it was a curse to enter this area. It used to be dark, full of overflowing filth, dirt. After implementation of Initial Cleaning, this place is no longer an area of curse. We made many small improvements in improving accessibility that resulted in reducing hours lost in minor stoppages in Extrusion process… says a Maintenance Engineer.

“Why-Why analysis is a tool we got as a gift from TPM exercise. Nowadays, we use this tool very often as to resolve most of our problems. This led to making special tools for cleaning the feed carriage of Pilger machine which saved us enormous time which is the objective of AM step 2…“says the Production-in-charge of Pilger process.

“We have our own computer software system of tracking Maintenance activities, yet, Equipment Ranking sheet, Equipment control ledger were new to us that helped us on choosing the right equipment for our activities & tracking the cost of Maintenance. Also the loss-tree charting of 16 losses really opened our eyes in many aspects. This had given us an idea of how to select our projects, what to do and where to do to improve our Plant effectiveness.  We learnt how to calculate MTBF, MTTR that gave us a focus on our improvement activities..” says one of the Maintenance Engineers.

“KAIZEN™ bursts, Small improvements, motivate our employees and create a healthy competition among them. In fact, workers from other Gemba have started nagging us to initiate TPM in their sections too. We will be horizontally deploying TPM in other areas too in a short while from now..” says one of their Managers.

“…yes, our OEE is increased, say from 46% to 65% now. Still, we have a long way to go. We are only in AM Step 2 and we have lot more to cover. As they say, this is a journey and it never ends..”

“I need to mention that in the recently held Union meeting, the union members volunteered to undertake AM activities by Operators that is a big cultural change we saw. Fully credit goes to our Managers who made this happen by practicing TPM in their GEMBA…” says  the President of this company.

To achieve Business Excellence, Operational Excellence is required. The journey to Operational Excellence is simple but not easy. They firmly believes in these three sayings:

  • We are what we repeatedly do
  • Excellence is not an act but a habit
  • We will find a better way or else we make one

They are confident in achieving their Vision 2015 by adapting the practices established by SMT Business system and other Operational Excellence practices they avail through other establishments.

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