The Mahle Group is one of the world’s leading suppliers of automotive components and is ranked among the top three suppliers of pistons, cylinder components and valve control systems, and air and fluid management in the world: with a revenue of around 10 billion Euros, with 76,000 employees spread over 170 production sites.
In 2012, the new CEO of the Turin based Mahle Italia, Stefano Bruni, entrusted Lenovys with a Lean Transformation project: in the past six years the company had already implemented several improvement initiatives, both autonomously and with the support of other organisations, but without a significant impact.
The new goal was to provide a new and different motivation to achieve a concrete and sustainable improvement in industrial performance over time.
A tangible social and cultural change was required to support the continuous process improvement. To do this, it was necessary for the following critical issues to be addressed:
- A need for people in the business to be more involved, from the top down
- The need for management and the CEOs to change their outlook in order to support the necessary change
- Improving the efficiency of the lines, and sustaining it over time
- Defining new shared standards and new tools that would be of actual use to people
There were to be two drivers for the project: active participation in the field and a deep respect for people, moving away from the offices to increasingly experience the “gemba” (where things happen).
The starting point was the meticulous inspection and cleaning of the pilot line machines, one of the oldest and most critical points, which was destined to host the first phase of the Lean Transformation. To leave a visible indication of the ongoing design and change, the machines were repainted white, with the direct personal involvement of the CEO and the consultants.
After this preliminary step, people were involved from the top down: the team was formed, led by the CEO and immediately new habits and tools for supporting change were implemented These included, for example:
- a daily tour of the line ( gemba walk)
- the daily opening and closing meetings in the obeya room
- a visual management system , updated hourly, featuring targets and fluctuations
- the OPLs and the check-lists to guide these new routines
The data system, which was visible to all, now allowed for tracking back to circumstances which prevented targets from being reached. This therefore allowed individuals to act on the root cause. Thanks to this, many obstacles were removed by the operating team in real time.
For more complex losses of efficiency, however, specific improvement projects for process improvement were created, and concrete and specific countermeasures introduced, such as:
- A Kanban System to handle supply flows
- 5S Methodology to counteract waste
- Process monitoring systems, a system for daily management and KPIs
Thanks to this, it was possible to act on the machines’ setup times, which dropped by 45% for those that were more difficult to set up, and 70% for those that were easier. Not only that, but interruptions resulting from breakdowns decreased after changing habits in the maintenance area, which led to line operators carrying out more autonomous and preventative maintenance.
Within a few months of the project starting, a 16% increase in global performance was observed on an old line: the oldest line “ran” at an almost higher speed than the more modern ones thanks to the Lean Transformation. Additionally, the company enjoyed:
- -80% reduction in waste
- -55% reduction in setup time
- -45% reduction in line failures
The signs of people’s involvement were visible: for example the celebration wall for daily micro achievements or the tree of involvement – where each new person introduced to the improvement project was shown. At the beginning of the project, there were 11 people involved , after eight months that number climbed to more than a hundred, equivalent to 35% of the company’s staff.
The line has become the symbol of the factory’s transformation, where the change is being truly experienced and the Lean techniques have now been mastered. Management is much more present on the factory floor and everyone now works to the same standards and processes, guaranteeing safety, quality and productivity. A cultural change has been kicked off and is backed up by new habits.