Achieving Operations Excellence – Cranfield University

Posted on 26 Mar 2015 by Jonny Williamson

Hosted by Cranfield University, Achieving Operations Excellence 2015 is a one-day event designed to help firms take an innovative approach to implementing real world, business-wide operations excellence.

Taking place today, attendees have the opportunity to discover how leading practioners at Rolls Royce, Weetabix, Linx and NCT leather have all achieved operational excellence in their businesses.

The day’s programme includes discussions on visual management in FMCG; employee engagement; applying learning from the Cranfield operations excellence executive MSc; and the key issues in implementing operations excellence.

Dr Patrick McLaughlin, programme director for the Operations Excellence MSc
Dr Patrick McLaughlin, programme director, Operations Excellence MSc.

Dr Patrick McLaughlin, senior lecturer in Manufacturing Management, Cranfield University

Key Issues in Implementing Operations Excellence – What to do and When to do it:

“What is operations excellence? Being the ‘best’; world-class performance; producing quality products; where every employee is focused on and enabled to improve; problem solving and leadership combine to produce continuous improvement; something that changes. Many of these are subjective and are actually ill-defined.”

“Learning the tools and techniques of operations excellence is one thing, putting them into practice is another entirely.”

“Toyota; Sony; Honda; BMW; Siemens – all good examples of operations excellence today.”

“Operations excellence has three key dimensions, like a stool with three legs. You could balance on two legs, maybe even one leg; but for long-term stability you need all three. The three ascpects are systems, people and culture.”

“When you try and change cultures, you focus on the things you can see, touch, hear, feel; but actually you’re trying to change the things beneath the surface – beliefs, values, attitudes.”

“Enablers of operations excellence: having a driven, capable, engaged team; establishing performance indicators across the whole organisation and at every level; train employees to solve problems and embed that as a daily process; encourage leaders who can help train others and drive behaviours; and reward good behaviours.”

“Inhibitors of operations excellence: short-terminism; a blame culture; ill-defined targets/processes; prescriptive solutions; a list of desirables – focusing purely on outputs; lack of employee enagement; ignoring employee benefits – the win-win; lack of detailed planning; inwardly facing organisations – ignoring market, clients, supply chain; poor communication.”

“The Operations Excellence MSc is an executive manufacturing masters programme. It develops professional operations leaders via a part-time coures lasting between two and three years undertaken while remaining at work.”

Nick Hussey, CEO, The Manufacturer
Nick Hussey, CEO, The Manufacturer

Nick Hussey, CEO, The Manufacturer

UK Manufacturing Challenges:

“The middle-sized companies within the UK’s manufacturing sector has been eroded away over the past, which has a negative impact on aspects such as sourcing from within a domestic supply chain, and attracting apprentices.”

“The Top Five challenges as we see them – built up from research by EEF, ImechE and our own Annual Manufacturing Report – improving efficiency; labour market and skills gap; changing business models i.e. servitization; innovation, and automation/robotics.”

“Manufacturing companies cannot recruit people with the specific skills they require; 84% of UK manufacturing businesses are experiencing recruitment problems (AMR 2013).”

“According to Ofgen, the risk of UK blackouts for industry has tripled in a year; the only solution is nuclear, it’s a must.”

“According to ONS, any company that focuses on exports is going to be a faster growing company than any that focuses entirely on the domestic market.”

“Servitization has the potential to radically transform industry; both Rolls Royce and BAE source 50% of their income from services.”

Mike Perival, global head of manufacturing engineering, Rolls Royce

Twelve Years of Operations Excellence:

“Why did we create the Operations Excellence MSc in 2003? To create a manufacturing engineering funciton. We looked at all the challenges we were facing as a company, challenges that if we looked now wouldn’t be that much different, and to overcome them we had to have Operations Excellence – particularly bieing involved in the aerospace industry.”

“We compiled all of the things we had to get better at and used them to create our vision for manufacturing engineering, taking into account skills, IT, advanced technology, etc.”

“Our people were, and are, an important part of our business’ ability to meet the challenges it faced, and continues to face.”

“We created the Operations Excellence course to increas the academic underpinning for the many capable mannufacturing engineers who had developed through ‘traditional’ rather than graduate routes, and to provide a route to ‘convert’ scientists and engineers of other disciplines to work in manufacturing.”

“Has the coures worked? The most fundamental indicator of success is that we have kept sending students, with 159 Rolls Royce delegates having started to date. When we ask the business to make nominations, every year managers and leaders are willing to lose someone for 10 weeks while they complete the course because they can see the benefit of what it offers.”

“Of those 159 Rolls Royce delegates, a substantial number have become heads, chiefs, managers and other executive leadership roles.”

“The course is as relevant today as it was then. Our delegates find continued relevance in thier learning, and not always where they’ve expected it.”

Luke Fairhead, quality and manufacturing engineering manager, Linx

Applying Learning from the Cranfield Operations Excellence Executive MSc to Drive Business Impact and Improve Factory Relocation:

“How has the MSc benefitted Linx? It helped define a manufacturing strategy for us to utilise our new facility, considering layout, cutlure, organisational structure, change management and management styles.”

“We benchmarked ourselves against companies such as GKN, Rolls Royce and Sony, looking at how they had approached similar problems in different contexts.”

“All team members shared the various roles to gain cross-organisational experience.”

“Having team workers walk through a scaled 3D model of the new faciltiy allowed us to tap into their experience and knowledge; they are the ones who will operate these processes on a daily basis so it’s important to involve them in the design and development stages.”

“Our new facility took 43 weeks from putting a spade in the ground to having it up and operational.”

“How do we acheive Operational Excellence at Linx? Through short interval management, daily reivew of actions with a cross-functional team, and having ownership at a team level.”

“43% improvement during 2014 and we are on track to achieve 50% this year.”

Wayne Thornton, previously head of performance improvement, Weetabix

Visual Performance Measurements (VPM) in FMCG:

“Connecting colleagues with plant performance is a powerful business improvement technique.”

“If you’re going to survive, you have to be good at what you do. The better you are at it, the more chance you have of being successful and reaching your goals.”

“VPM is about taking people on a journey.”

“Information and measures should be insightful, the design of how you present it has to be right.”

“Management should engage work teams during the VPM development process, getting the culture right and motivate people. They should also shift their role from one of decision-making to empowering and supporting work teams.”

“The current FMCG environment is tough. New entrants in the supermarket landscape are causing significant ripples, though their market share may only be small. People’s habits of shopping has changed to become more frequent which means business contracts are ultimately shorter and more competitively fought over.”

“If you’re not customer-facing, you’re missing out!”

“The most important things to get right in order to achieve success are: identify, plan, communicate, engage, implement, measure, empower and support.”

“People on the shop floor love it when management knows about something they’ve done well, and even more so when they are personally recognised for it.”