As consultants, we once helped a manufacturing plant director discover how we could save $20 million from his costs in the coming year. His response? “I don’t want $20 million. I only need $3 million to meet my objectives. Why would I contribute more than that?”...
You have probably found yourself in this meeting before - the emergency, all-hands-on-deck sit in scheduled to solve the new, big problem. It could be about people, customers, sales, a technical or quality issue--it doesn’t matter. Your group spends the first 10 minutes excitedly proposing solutions to the problem. These solutions are great, creative ideas that have sprung to mind.
The term ‘benchmark’ originates from surveyors marking a stone to act as a consistent reference point for where to place their equipment with each visit to a site. In life and work we now use benchmarks all the time as consistent reference points to measure performance against...
Earlier this year, Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal government announced their intention to implement a Canada wide Carbon tax in the coming years, to the tune of $50/tonne at its peak. The reaction to this announcement was mixed, with recognizable names on either side of the debate.
“There’s no such thing as a stupid question”. You have probably heard that sentence before, maybe from a teacher or professor, encouraging you to raise your hand and participate in class. The concept of asking “stupid questions” doesn’t always resonate outside of the classroom.
A waste reduction team I recently worked on achieved 160% of its annualized savings goal yet saw the largest problem reoccur one morning six weeks later. The problem, a product spacing issue, caused a significant percentage of the product to be wasted, but on the other side of the plant from the solution.
Have you ever felt guilty after a particularly overindulgent meal? Although it is quite normal for people to feel as though they have betrayed their bodies, one meal alone will not cause significant weight gain.
20 years ago continuous improvement (or CI) was but a blip on the management radar compared to the pillar of operations lore that it represents today. Most industrial and manufacturing organizations have since adopted some form of CI and, in parallel, the professional services marketplace for all things CI (training, certification, direct facilitation, organizational development, etc.) has ballooned, stratified and, in many domains, commoditized.
In today’s manufacturing world we’ve become focused on collecting and analyzing data - creating pivot charts and paretos, moving data into buckets, rearranging so that it can tell us how our process is performing. Although good for initial prioritization, taking this analysis too far can get us into trouble because it distracts us from getting on the floor and starting the actual problem solving needed to improve.
After both players have made their second move in a chess game there are over 72 thousand possible positions the game could be in. After 3 moves there are 9 million. After 4 moves, 318 million and so on.
On August 5, 2010, a mine collapsed in Chile’s Atacama Desert, trapping 33 miners more than 2,000 feet underground. Nineteen days later, as rescue crews grew desperate, a 24-year-old field engineer named Igor Proestakis decided to travel to the site with what he hoped was a breakthrough idea: using a particular drilling technology, called cluster hammers, to cut through the collapsed rock.
Most manufacturing and industrial businesses are not solving their toughest problems because common problem solving tools are ineffective at addressing the hardest, most technical problems. By attempting to solve challenging technical problems with ineffective tools organizations create beliefs that hard problems are “impossible” to resolve instead of bringing in the necessary tools and horsepower to overcome them.
Those who have been following know that 2015 has not been a good year for commodity markets. As of August, nearly all hard and soft commodities have dropped in value since January 1, other than a few outliers like canola and cocoa. Perhaps most significantly, oil is trading near a 6-year low, down 50% from just a year ago
It has now been 20 years since John Kotter first published his trendsetting article on leading change entitled: “Why Transformation Efforts Fail”. Since then it has served as the prevailing roadmap to help organizations devise and execute big changes to improve their performance. Among Kotter’s 8 steps we have found that the need to “Plan For and Create Short-Term Wins”, tucked away at number 6, is frequently being neglected and at great peril to these change efforts.
European share of chemical production has been steadily decreasing, but there are opportunities to be more competitive. The global chemical industry is a more competitive marketplace than ever before. For European manufacturers the high cost of feedstock and energy prices in relation to the US, and high labour, capital, and SG&A costs in relation to China and other low-cost producers create significant headwinds.
The frequency with which capital projects substantially overrun their budgets is widely reported though you rarely hear of a project being cancelled because of a looming cost overrun. Presumably sometimes the intangible value of the completed asset just seems too high to stop, no matter what the cost (think of preparing a city to host the Olympic Games).
Mark Rosenbaum will be speaking at the World Heavy Oil Congress, held in Edmonton this coming Thursday, 26 March 2015 at 9:30AM MT. Mark will be highlighting how to deliver more when visible opportunities and trade-offs are exhausted or inefficient.
Commodity producers are not strangers to the pressures of price cycles. You understand the need to drive efficient and effective operations and have invested accordingly. Over the last decades, most businesses have adopted best practices through benchmarking, Lean Six Sigma, and other improvement efforts. This has raised performance, eradicated visible waste, and left many wondering if significant potential for improvement remains.
Manufacturing is expected to grow over the next few years in the US. A recent MAPI foundation report predicts US manufacturing growth will outpace GDP growth in 2015 and 2016. Industry growth is a great opportunity but doesn’t guarantee one’s success.
Times are tough right now for miners and energy producers. China’s economy, as well as many others, have slowed and commodity prices are at their lowest level in almost a decade. Once healthy margins are tight or have vanished altogether, projects that met hurdle rates are less attractive or viewed as nonviable, and long-term plans are being questioned.