A Rapid Programme for Improving Manufacturing Performance


The DTI identified that the average OEE within UK industry was around 52% up only around 7% in a 5-year period. In simple terms, it could be argued that the UK had twice as much capacity as needed.

Many organisations had attempted to improve their existing manufacturing operation but often with little or no real success. One of the problems with improvement initiatives in many organisations was that tools and techniques were applied in series so that issues were tackled in isolation rather than in a holistic way. This lead to programmes that took a long time to deliver benefits ore used the wrong tool and technique for that particular situation or environment.

However, there is help at hand in the form of the ‘Manufacturing Excellence Programme’ which has been successfully delivered by MCP Consulting Group Ltd. across the globe.

What is Manufacturing Excellence and why is it so successful?

In its simplest form, it is the concurrent use of many tools and techniques delivered by shop floor staff with training, facilitation and project management from an experienced MCP consultant. The programme is delivered over a 10-week period in one or more pilot areas and delivers real benefit quickly. It also deals concurrently with plant and people performance issues and strives to work alongside existing improvement activities.

The success of the manufacturing excellence programme can be seen in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and home to Johnson & Johnson’s consumer products South East Asia’s manufacturing facility. Following on from successful manufacturing improvement projects delivered by MCP at J&J plants in the USA and Europe, MCP carried out a review of manufacturing and maintenance performance at the site. At the end of this process, the MCP team had identified significant opportunities for performance improvements and cost savings within the facility.

The plant was already heavily involved with six-sigma with a number of black belt projects on the go but wanted to support these process improvements with sustainable improvements in overall manufacturing performance. However, they did not want to derive improvements in a piecemeal way with benefits spread over a number of years rather they needed to see significant gains in a relatively short period of time. Therefore a 10-week Manufacturing Excellence Programme was initiated on two pilot lines.

The lines chosen were a sanitary towel manufacturing line ESP1 and a powder filling line BP1. The basis of the programme was to successfully implement a number of relevant tools and techniques onto the lines whilst moving to a team-based structure with a dedicated team leader responsible for driving production.


The team from both J&J and MCP set out to achieve the following benefits:

  • Increase in OEE on pilot lines to 60%
  • Improvement in changeover time
  • To 12 hours for ESP1 from its current 18 hours
  • 1 hour for BP1 from its current 4 hours
  • Reduction in manning of 12 people

The activities carried out by the MCP team included:

  • Revising the structure on pilot lines to build a dedicated team with a newly defined position of team leader
  • Implementation of 5S principles and the use of Kanbans for raw material supply
  • Introducing KPIs & daily monitoring
  • Implementation of aspects of TPM – including the operators doing minor tasks such as lubrication, inspection and basic maintenance
  • Improvements in size changeover times using SMED techniques
  • Development of standard operating procedures including basic diagnostic procedures
  • The application of the FMECA process (Failure Modes Effect and Criticality Analysis) a structured tool for the development of maintenance requirements
    Definition and implementation of revised maintenance plans
  • The MCP team worked closely with a team from the plant, which included supervisors, operators and craftsmen to both train the team in the use of the tools and techniques and then to help them implement the tools successfully on the plant.

The management team supported the programme heavily and all levels from supervisor to the regional operations director were involved in awareness and training sessions.

By the end of the 10 weeks, the originally targeted benefits had been easily surpassed with savings of £300,000 achieved and further savings of around £1 million available when the programme is rolled out to the other areas of the facility.


The tangible benefits obtained from the programme included:

  • Reduction in manning of 22 people
  • Changeover time on BP 1 reduced to 50 minutes from 4 hours
  • Improved time to change parts on ESP 1 from 8.75 hours to 5 hours
  • Increase in OEE performance on ESP 1 to 58% from its initial level of 48%
  • OEE on BP1 to 65% from its initial 53%

Whilst these were the tangible financial benefits of the programme there were many other changes to the way the two lines operated these included:

  • Team leader role developed and implemented on two pilot lines
  • The 5S process implemented and now being audited daily by team leaders
  • KPIs and daily monitoring in place in both pilot areas
  • PDCA cycle being used to drive improvements
  • Operator asset care tasks being carried out by operators on a daily basis on both pilot lines
  • Training in ME awareness, 5S, SMED, team leader role and CI tools
  • Coaching/ training of team leaders and ME champion
  • Development of a changeover improvement process
  • Review of manning levels across the plant
  • Standard operating procedures for changeovers developed
  • Troubleshooting guides developed for key areas
  • Implementation of Kanbans for raw material supply
  • Staff trained in the use of FMECA process
  • Revised PM tasks developed with frequency and skills

Compare the progress made in this 10-week programme with the benefits gained from improvement programmes carried out in your organisations – is there a difference?

So why was this programme so successful?

We believe that a key issue was the commitment of the management team to making sure that the programme delivered benefits and where obstacles appeared they were quickly tackled. A second issue was that all the staff at all levels genuinely wanted to be involved and wanted to help improve their organisation.

The very fact that the MCP team worked predominantly at the supervisor and shop floor level meant that operator suggestions were heard and acted upon. Too often managers ignore the knowledge and skill contained within the shop floor. We also believe that strong project management was critical to the success of the programme. 50 days is not a great deal of time to achieve lasting change if you are going to debate every issue and constantly strive for the perfect model before implementing any activity. To achieve rapid success, you need a combination of good analysis, good planning and a team that will simply get on with it whatever obstacles you throw in their way!

The Manufacturing Excellence Programme has also been used extensively and successfully in the UK in a wide variety of industries. If you need a breakthrough in manufacturing performance, then just maybe this is the approach for you!

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