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Continuous improvement teams Culture change and communication Empowerment and training Redesigned factory cells Alternative raw materials
• The Company
Appor Ltd is part of the Deb Group, which sells soap products throughout the world. Appor moulds and assembles soap dispensers that are sold both to Deb Group companies and to external customers worldwide, with ca.60% being shipped overseas. The range of products, variety of colours and printed logos is continually increasing, and lead times are now measured in days not weeks. Whilst sales are growing, so too are labour and material costs. Appor has been on its present site, near Derby, for approximately 15 ...view middle of the document...
There was clearly a willingness on the part of the employees to become involved, but this was met with a lack of direction and guidance from management, due to other pressures and perhaps motivation.
• Continuous Improvement
In late 1999, after some initial discussions with various employees, which generated a “warm feeling”, a decision was taken to accelerate efforts to improve customer service, which was already achieving 98% due date compliance, but under pressure to reduce lead times further, reduce costs, and improve employee morale. These efforts have centred on continuous improvement (CI) project teams, and regular two-way communication to all.
Four CI teams were formed in January 2000, membership being encouraged from all levels of employees and across all functions. Each team comprises 5 or 6 people, and is lead by a relevant member of management. The rules are simple:
Only 4 projects are allowed to be “on the go” at any time in each team. These involve members of the team, but frequently also use the skill and time of other employees or external resources, monitored closely by a nominated team member. No new projects can be started until one has been completed, including its successful implementation.
After completion of a project, a review is held to record whether initial objectives have been met or exceeded, and to agree whether any further work should be done in this area. Initial project meetings consisted of brainstorming of ideas, and voting for which projects to tackle ﬁrst, taking into account issues such as cost effectiveness, frustration, improvement in quality, and making life easier, initially for the employee, but ultimately for the customer and the company, by way of a happier employee. Formal project team meetings with minutes are held every 2 weeks, with a maximum of 30 minutes’ duration. Their purpose is to review progress and ensure deviations are minimised; the minutes are posted on site communication notice boards, to ensure all employees are aware of the progress of the CI teams.
• Successes and Beneﬁts
The beneﬁts that have been achieved to date have been both tangible and intangible. They are costed, where appropriate, and the savings published. They include:
The design and manufacture of an assembly jig, costing £950, but saving labour of £2000 per year and also signiﬁcant frustration on the part of the operators, who can now assemble more product each day,...