Operational Excellence

This was a project that left sustainable benefits through staff training, radical changes to work methods and also delivered benefits quickly.

Challenge

This particular client, a fine chemicals company based in the USA, was producing a highly profitable product that was in high demand so wanted to increase output.  Unfortunately, they had two problems:

  • Their OEE performance was very poor (plant reliability, availability and rate were particularly poor) so they could not exploit the opportunity.
  • They were already creating more waste than their effluent treatment plant could contain at their current throughput which had led to a number of discharges into the local river. Under the US Government at the time, there was a high fine system for pollution so even if they could improve throughput of the main plant the effluent issues would not allow them to use it.

Their original plan was to run an operational improvement project to identify how they could improve plant throughput and manage the effluent issue until they could build a larger effluent plant.

What we did

This project was led by company founder, Laurie Dummett, and involved complete end to end optimisation of their operations and maintenance processes as part of a major change program which involved members of the team from all levels in the organisation.

This project was all about combining specialist analysis and problem solving with engaging the people on the shop floor.  The process included bringing small teams together with consultants and their staff, giving the people from the shop floor, technical and management teams much-needed process support. This was a project that left sustainable benefits through staff training, radical changes to work methods and also delivered benefits quickly.  It delivered a few surprises too.

By the time the project was three months old the effluent problem was completely under control.  In fact the client never did build that new effluent treatment plant.  They didn’t need it because the OPEX program that they thought was a temporary solution had delivered them a way of trapping waste at source and converting it to saleable product.  With OEE up, waste down and an engaged workforce, they were able to move their thinking away from coping with problems and onto new opportunities.

Outcome

The financial benefits are easy – through a combination of waste reduction and increased production (both of the order of 30%) the company benefited from an additional $2m profit per annum.

However, the greater legacy of the project was the skill level and motivation of the team and the working practices they retained as a consequence of the project.  This program fundamentally changed how they worked on site and this has given them a platform to deliver future improvements from.

Customer comment

"This was a great piece of work and you have totally exceeded our expectations! The best performance improvement project I have ever seen.  You have brought something new and different."