BAM Bangalore: Seeing Agility In Action

The Business Agility Meetup community of Bengaluru had been talking about visiting a manufacturing facility to observe the ‘lean manufacturing principles’ in practice. When we requested Mr. Praveen Dhruvkumar to take us through a guided tour of the manufacturing facility belonging to Continental Automotive India Pvt Ltd in Bengaluru, he gladly agreed.

On June 22, fiften members of BAM Bangalore visited the facility. We all were given electrostatic discharge capable clothing to wear before enterin the facility. While we walked through the various phases of ECU manufacturing right from the PCB printing to components soldering to water proofing to assembly, it was something of a “kid in a candy store” experience for all of us! Physical boards with labels, signs, tags and instructions on standard procedures and practices decorate every unit, sub-unit and assembly line. These are not only simple to comprehend, but also just detailed enough to get the job done!

            It is overwhelming to observe how the key industry best practices are coming alive at this unit. To begin with, every section of the manufacturing unit has designated areas for meetings which are planned ahead in time. The schedule for a month or so is published well in advance which makes it that easy for Shift Managers and Supervisors to conduct meetings efficiently.

            At the core of Lean suite of practices adopted is the Value Stream Mapping (VSM) which provides a detailed visualization of all the steps in the work from start to finish. By the end of this exercise there is a clear vision of the end to end work flow, areas of process improvement, value addition and also wasteful steps. It becomes easy to pick the actions required to improve the way work gets done.

Continental Automotive strongly advocates the building blocks of Manufacturing as we know it today, the 4Ms of Manufacturing-

  • Man: Number of available resources, efficiency, level of training, error count
  • Machine: Rate of production, number of tasks the line can handle, lead time, breakdown rate
  • Material: Inventory numbers, Raw material levels, quality of obtained materials, set size, surplus/waste materials, shelf life
  • Method: Process Optimization, FMEA, Mistake Proofing, Demand forecast precision, adherence to production plan, production output size                                            

            At the heart of Continuous Improvement plan is Kaizen way of operation which focuses on elimination of waste. The organization adopts Jishuken as the Practice to achieve Kaizen. While Kaizen is a philosophy of operation and promotes “Change for Better”, Jishuken demonstrates alignment with Kaizen philosophy with in-depth analysis of activities and initiatives to eliminate Non Value Added elements. Continental is very much abreast with Lean leader Best Practices called Leader Standard Work (LSW). It comprises of a set of actions, tools and behaviors incorporated in the daily work of leadership including Supervisors, Managers and Directors. Leader Accountability Boards provide precise data first hand which are updated after effective Gemba Walks in the units.               

As part of Jishuken, problem solving techniques are also the Lean A3 and Deming cycle which play key roles in Lean practices. The popular practice Deming cycle or Deming Wheel provides a very organized problem solving process framework. The iterative PDCA cycles provide a controlled and continuous improvement environment for problem solving. The A3 report provides precise and concise information of the problem in hand to be resolved.

 As part of Continuous improvement and problem solving, the Pareto analysis technique is used in critical decision making based on the problems like First Pass yield issues. It highlights how the vital few impact the trivial many. For implementing effective problem solving and other continuous improvement the organization also looks at “SMART” technique.

Quality is key and well-defined quality checks are put in place, quite visibly. In addition to quality, process performance is yet another area of focus. Metrics like Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), First Pass Yield (FPY) and Defect Per Million Opportunities (DPMO) are measured and recorded as part of these activities.

With “Agile for Automotive” being the mantra of the time, it is befitting to note that this tour has been the ideal learning opportunity with Continental being one of the leading practitioners of Lean, Agile, Kanban and other proven practices, while it explores more ways to integrate Agile into project organization as well as in the complex automotive supply chain!

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