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Study Visit To Burckhardt Compression, Pune


Sanat Sankrityayan 2015-11-09


I recently visited their factory in Kondhapuri, near Ranjangaon, Pune. It was a fabulous experience, as it exposed me to a transformation that was led by people. I was guided through the transformation story by Mr. Milind Wagle, GM and Mr. Varadaraja Pai, AGM. The hosts were very friendly and effectively communicated about the situation that was before. The story of the earlier situation at the factory was not unheard of, for me. It reflected the usual problems faced by any normal assembly factory, where multiple parts are brought in, some are bought out, many are outsourced for machining, and forging and every machine has a different set up cycle. The change began in 2010.

The worst aspect for them was that each order was unique, it was different as in measurements, components, specifications of performance and its installation utility. This made their task of managing the place even difficult as not even one part was supposed to be common for the next customer order. As all project based procurement orders had a lead time of 2-3 months, it made the overall throughput time for customer delivery as 12 months. The Order execution was rife with lots of rework, design modifications, procurement challenges, testing compliances and process adherence. The parent company being a Swiss MNC, it was difficult to manoeuvre the manpower, process or technology requirements. All the deliveries (100%, but in different measures) were delayed as in 2010.There were pending claims of unsatisfied on-time deliveries. What did they do? Here are few of the ideas in this report.

Value Stream Mapping was initiated in full stretch over a period of three months to capture the real picture of the Factory. The VSM brought all the people on common platform of data and information. It brought forth the as-is condition of Inventory, Delivery Status, Machine Loading, Set ups, Material handling and transfers.

>VSM at plant level and identified pacemaker
>Sequence manager meeting to ensure smooth execution of projects
>Plant level KPI’S – Delivery, Inventory, Complaints, Value addition per employee etc.
>N Bin for repeat parts
>Layout changes in machine shop

The layout was a process-village, where the similar machines were kept close-by and the layout had evolved with time. Once the team identified the Pacemaker of the plant, they started arranging other factors around that. One of their Process Steps was the pacemaker, and the future state of the VSM started to build up.

First step was Cellular Layout, based on Process Steps that had emanated from the VSM exercise.

>Formation of cells based on product family
>Relaying of cells to reduce part movement
>Measurement and monitoring of loss time for each cell
>Set up time, a major contributor to waste on all cells
>Actions to reduce set up time on repeat parts

Next major step was the scheduling of Project Work on the Cells. The Cellular Layout was ably supported by the right planning and communication by the Projects Team. The Load of each Machine is displayed on a Metallic Board with Magnetized Cards that contain code-forms for the work that is to be done. The dates are also mentioned on them and the sequence of the priority too. Now the management focus was not on maximum utilization of the machines, but the right utilization of the machines. Even if the machines go idle for some time, it is okay because Overproduction does not happen.

When the Team started making changes, suggestions were invited from people. They soon realized that theOFI (Opportunity for Improvements) were seen only in other departments, and this is so natural. To keep up the momentum of change happening, the opportunities were utilized, gradually converting it to “Self-improvement”. It was fuelled by the Reward System, given to anyone who suggests an improvement.

The Jib Cranes are given for internal material transfers, and it has taken away the dependence on the big overhead Crane. Creating the Safe Material Handling SOP and its uniform training was the game changer, as it induced a feeling of “being cared for” in the people working there. TPM (Total Productivity Maintenance) broke down the barriers between the hierarchy positions. It blurred the lines of authority, thereby reinforcing the self-reliance in the operators. It actually inverted the Pyramid, the bottom-up involvement started flowing in. They started with:

Daily lean management meetings on each cell – 10 minutes standing meeting

Focus on Production Preparation Process:

>Next 3 load on priority
>Production Preparation Process
>Loss time (B/down) and concerns on previous day
>Status of actions for various improvements
>TPM and concerns on machine basic condition
>Safety of Operations and Handling

Project based Manufacturing, and moreover the procurement of the components are never easy. It is a challenge to freeze the design and technical output specifications. The installation of the Compressors they provide is usually dependent on many other factors at the Clients Site. The delivery dates are sacrosanct for the Customers, as they have planned it forward. The procurement cycle has to be synchronized with the in-house assembly dates.

To handle this, they bifurcated the inventory into two streams, one was based on internal replenishment and another was dependent on outsourced parties. The Supermarket concept was brought in to maintain a consistent supply of the internal replenishment items. These items are stocked on two ways of Kanban we know, one is Fixed Time Variable Quantity and another is Fixed Quantity Variable Time. The calculations of the Kanban quantity is revised every quarter. The items on Kanban are placed directly on the Production Line of the Cells with the help of a magnetized card.

The other set of items, that is, vendor based, are placed under VMI (vendor managed inventory) to reduce the lead time and any uncertainty associated with the supplies. However, the lead time for supplies is still a challenging situation because of the location of the suppliers. The uncertainty is protected by the Project Management group, where the supplies are ordered within a certain time frame. To reduce the rejections, the concept of “self-Certification” is introduced and practiced by the suppliers. The deviations are measured as per part, and not on the component level. The Suppliers are consistently measured and rated to improve performance.

Inside the manufacturing shop-floor, traceability is maintained by a Check Sheet. A check-sheet is not similar to a check-list that is used to find flaws. A Check Sheet is one of the 7 Quality Control Tools, and is used to enable completion of the Order before it moves to its next destination. Major communication mishaps were in between the processes, however, they developed enablers like Daily Meet. Initially there were too many meetings scheduled, however, they could find value of two meeting that would cover the whole Value Stream. One was held at the Pacemaker Process, and another Delivery Section.

QA personnel adds more Value

Shopfloor Improvements came up really strong and sustained the changing orders. Route Card, Check Sheets, Online Quality Check, Kaizen by Individuals, and Priority Production Planning are some of the good practicesBurckhardt has mastered over these four years. Today QA as an inspector is redundant, however, they do more Value Adding activities like Process Adherence. Vendors are roped in to propagate the good manufacturing practices in their respective factories to make the whole Supply Chain robust. Long Lead items like “Casting” are being monitored closely for Quality Compliances. The Casting makers or Foundries are being trained on sequencing of their tasks, like pouring, training the casual unskilled operators, process monitoring and regulating the size of production batches.

Today it is a different place!

Today all production orders are first of all communicated to all by conducting a “Kick Off”. It happens with few requisites like Design Validation & Verification. A Kick-off is a planned event where the Project Management Team declares the Project with the Sales Team in toe. Engineering team divulges the technical specifications. R&D approves the Design and the different shop-floor processes are determined. Project Manager heads it, and shares details on Activity Gantt chart, delivery timeline, in-time release dates and intermittent milestones. It also spurs the Procurement Orders. Buffers are planned alongside with the Supply Chain Management team. The philosophy of internal customer can be visibly seen at play, and it does bring a lot of clarity of the whole project across the factory.

Now they have an excellent reputation as a trusted and reliable company. Their Order Completion Lead Time has reduced to a promise-worthy 7 months. Sales team is happy with the orders. Vendors are happy with the evenness of the orders for them. Customers are gaga over these initiatives, and several awards have already been bestowed upon them. Last year, Burckhardt Team won the Best Case Study at Lean Kaizen Mela, an event for Pune Industries organized by DCCIA Pune and Vedzen. CII has conferred many awards, they have also won at National Level Competitions. Possibly, they may challenge the Deming Award in near future.

Emerging Constraints – early signals

There are still certain barriers they face when it comes to uniformity of the Productive Culture at the workplace. A certain section of People still carry the departmental mindset, and this defeats the purpose of Lean Deployment across the functionalities. Recent Laurels may seep in a sense of complacency, and this is what the management fears. Involving the people on a holistic scale is the priority of the management in the coming days. They have launched a massive training programme for all, on Structured Problem Solving, Root Cause Analysis, and TPM.

What Next

The officers have now been enrolled to a VSM Exercise to improve the transactional processes. The efforts are on to reduce the hand-offs, technical glitches, project bumps and u-turns due to customer communication. The effectiveness of the changes at the factory level would sustain only if the Customers are abreast with the progress of their work. Customer Satisfaction is already achieved by giving 100% Orders on-time in last two years (2013-14, 2014-15) and the Burckhardt team has raised the bar now by aiming for Customer Delight, the “Aha” feeling.

See what they are today, better than yesterday!


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