Key 8 of the 20 Keys System for operations excellence, Coupled Manufacturing/Production, is about a strategy and methods to link processes in order to ensure:
- a smooth, fast process,
- product and information flow,
- with low inventory levels, and
- effective communication between the different up- and downstream processes/functions.
It is also applicable to administration and other supporting functions.
At Grain Field Chickens, a large chicken processing plant in the Free State, which recently received the International 20 Keys Excellence Award from PDI (Japan) and ODI (South Africa), the implementation of Key 8 focuses on strengthening coupling in terms of 3 issues:
- Implementing service level agreements between all first-line teams, in production and all supporting functions, including Sales
- Implementing the concept of Goldfish Bowl Meetings between functions
- Identify all coupling points in Production, from the farms delivering chicken, to Despatch of product and based on that drawing up a coupling strategy for ensuring a fast, smooth flow of products to the market
It is often not realised that there are large amounts of waste in an organisation between the different functions/processes producing products and services. The wastes between the links of such a supply chain can be of many different forms, and manifest itself in cost effectiveness, productivity and delivery performance, leading to the organisation being less competitive in the market.
Service level agreements serve the purpose of clarifying expectations between processes/functions in terms of requirements how they will work together and supply each other with materials, products and information. This is especially important at first-line team level as it is here where day to day work is done, which directly affects
- quality and
The agreement should be a practical one with regular discussions and measurements to evaluate performance, with quick corrective actions. At GFC this has been implemented between all first-line teams, or Mini Businesses, resulting in many improvements where different types of waste were eliminated.
Goldfish Bowl Meetings help to get functions to effectively discuss issues between them which are hindering optimum performance. We all know that when two or more parties discuss issues that the discussion can quickly deteriorate into a blaming, hiding of issues and emotional session. This often leads to an issue just being argued away.
One of the first Goldfish Bowl Meetings we had was a discussion between the Farms Logistics team (catching and delivering chickens to the Plant) and the Plant Production team. The link between these two teams is a crucial one, as the efficiency and quality of production starts with the input it receives. They have, of course, discussed issues between them before, but the meeting provided a different format to assist with more effectively identifying and defining actions to be taken.
Every point where
- work-in-process and
- finished products are stored, is defined as coupling points (in this case mostly physical things).
Rene Janse van Rensburg, onsite 20 Keys Facilitator, supported the Key 8 Leader – Wessel Smal, with drawing up a detailed process flow map of the plant. All coupling points were identified and together they drew up a coupling strategy whereby the rules for how each coupling point will work, was defined – also with support from shop floor, supervisors.
As part of the Excellence Award review, all coupling points were regularly visited and evaluated in terms of its effectiveness, practicality and whether the rules are being adhered to. The strategy is evaluated on a regular basis, as it determines the flow, in terms of eliminating disruptions as well as the amount of materials and inventory in the system.
Implementation of 20 Keys is a never-ending journey, as there is always opportunity for doing things safer, different, better, smarter and more cost effectively. The aim is to establish a mindset and culture for continuous improvement, at all organisation levels. Without a structured approach, many opportunities are lost due to an exclusive focus on day to day issues and pressures.
Author: Johan Benadie – Director at ODI
To read more about GFC’s structured approach for capturing and supporting the implementation of ideas, click here.
Organisation Development International (ODI) is a globally represented productivity and management consulting company, focusing on operational excellence.