These days, you can’t be a market leader purely by being good at what you do because in this globalised world, the others around you also know how to thrive. You certainly need to be better – and do things better as well. Better than your competitors, better than market demands and better than customer expectations. So it goes without saying that optimisation is very important to the Lapp Group. And we have a systematic way of doing it.
‘Do not pass go’: despite what they say in the bestselling classic Monopoly, it’s all systems go here at Lapp with our Lapp Operation System (LOS) which we developed to optimise processes for the entire Lapp Group. It consists of cutting-edge lean management tools and methods, and was designed to speed up and simplify processes. In a nutshell: to continuously get better.
The major aim of this is to turn a very good system into a perfect system. How do we do this? By drafting standards, describing methods, training our staff and offering them qualifications. “We don’t want to wait until somebody just happens to improve something – we want a system that makes optimisation part of our culture,” said Georg Stawowy, member of the board of Lapp Holding AG who is responsible for Technology and Innovation.
Knowing what is best
To achieve this aim, the Lapp Operation System will highlight where we are wasteful. It is often time we waste. For example, the time the product takes to ‘wait’ to carry on. Or the time needed to set up a machine. Wherever time is not used productively, the potential to optimise lies dormant. Overall, seven distinct types of waste are commonly identified, and it is not always a case of time: surplus production, storage, transportation or other areas could also be the objective of our optimisation.
As in many companies, Asia takes the top spot when it comes to process optimisation at Lapp. At Lapp Korea, for example, the demand for solar cables exceeded their production capacity. In a kaizen workshop, cable printing was swiftly defined as a limiting factor. The print speed, and thus effectively the output of the entire system, could be increased by more than 50 percent with a few simple measures – at no great cost.
At Camuna Cavi, a Lapp subsidiary in Italy, the set-up time needed until a system can manufacture a new product could be reduced from 210 to 60 minutes by sharing the work more efficiently.
But the LOS system, like many kaizen programmes, involves more than just the production side – it permeates all areas of Lapp. For instance, when we compiled the main catalogue, which contains more than 1,000 pages, a kaizen process helped to greatly simplify and speed up the workflow. Lapp now publishes the main catalogue in 16 languages for 27 countries, making it perfect for customers all over the world.
Customer service and logistics also managed to reduce the lead time for processing customer returns in the logistics centre in Stuttgart to less than half, so customers can get their credit note faster.
LOS is basically used to question our processes. It focuses on avoiding any kind of waste: what proportion of the delivery time is taken up by idle time, i.e. times when no value is added through work? How long must customers wait until they have an offer on the table? And how many rings do customers hear until a friendly voice on the other end of the line says: “Good morning, the Lapp Group. What can I do for you?”
Formula 1 demonstrates how to improve
3 ½ hours: the time it took for Camuna Cavi, a company within the Lapp Group specialising in the gas and petroleum industry, to set upa machine before the LOS system was launched. Until they learned from Formula 1 by figuring out the knack to the speedy tyre changes: they needed to get more people involved in the set-up. This process now takes just 60 minutes.