Lean management is still primarily associated with the optimization of classic manufacturing processes. At the same time a company’s service can also be appreciably improved with the aid of lean methods. The compressor specialist HOERBIGER offers a good example of the latter. Vienna-based Dr. Georgios Loukmidis, HOERBIGER’s Head of Service Operations, has lifted the performance of the almost 40 service workshops spread around the world onto a new level of excellence.
HOERBIGER is a globally active Group with sites in over 46 countries. The company’s manufacturing range includes systems and components for reciprocating compressors, vehicle powertrains and gas motors plus the servicing of its products. Using an audit system it developed itself and which focused on the “standardization and optimization of service processes”, HOERBIGER reviewed its 40 or so service workshops scattered around the globe and established the world-wide customer-centered SERVICE EXPERIENCE program with the purpose of achieving further increases in customer satisfaction with its service offering. “As a company, we are duty bound to configure our everyday processes so that they are sustainable wherever they are in the world and to improve them continuously,” emphasized Dr. Georgios Loukmidis.
Uniform standards in all service workshops
During the audit a team of internal experts identified more than 1,000 measures capable of improving the processes during servicing. For example, the analysis showed that extremely different ways of working prevailed in the various sites, all of them based on their individual experiences somewhere in the past. Mistakes made during servicing were seen as items for criticism rather than as opportunities for improvement. Many different process routes, a lack of orderliness and cleanliness, significant effort devoted to searches and unsynchronized processes also complicated work.
In some workshops any sense of team spirit was also absent. All of which resulted in excessive lead times. “After the audit we singled out the best workshops and conducted our initial lighthouse projects. We wanted to demonstrate what we could do even better”, explained Loukmidis. “The objective was to standardize the workshops and optimize them using lean methods. Customers must perceive HOERBIGER as a professional service-provider in which they have every confidence.”
But is it really possible to plan repairs of valves and compressor components? “As a service provider we are obliged to repair all our products that arrive in the workshops. Every workshop must be as prepared as possible for this task,” stated Loukmidis. In just a few months the company therefore introduced uniform standards in the workshops – standards which extended not only to repairs but also to the infrastructure needed for repairs and working equipment in the broadest sense (buildings, work stations, machines, tools, work clothes and service vehicles). Principles for occupational safety were also defined, shopfloor management established to reinforce internal communication, and all the measures supported by coaching.
The intention is that thanks to increasing standardization our customers will have the same positive experience at all our workshops wherever they are in the world.DR. GEORGIOS LOUKMIDIS
HEAD OF SERVICE OPERATIONS & SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
HOERBIGER WIEN GMBH
A new culture as the foundation for continuous improvement
With the assistance of Staufen the service processes were streamlined as part of the lighthouse projects. “The challenge during the value stream analysis was that we had to examine administrative and value-creating processes at the same time in our quest for lead time improvement,” said Staufen partner Helena Reichmann. To take an example, it proved possible in Dubai to reduce the lead time in the workshop by 50% and the time taken for the overall processing of the order by 35%. The material flow in the workshop was reduced from 1 kilometer to 336 meters.
“At the same time we established a new culture relating to mistakes so that staff recognize and eliminate planning and process variations during their day-to-day work on the shopfloor. This is the only way to achieve continuous improvement”, added Loukmidis. By means of the lighthouse projects, HOERBIGER laid the foundation stone for rolling out the new “service experience” in all their workshops across the world. And where do we go from here? “The intention is that thanks to increasing standardization our customers will have the same positive experience at all our workshops wherever they are in the world,” asserted Loukmidis. “If we are to succeed in this, the workshops must improve their exchanges of ideas between themselves and cooperate as a robust network.”
This cooperation is planned to succeed through increasing digitalization in order fulfillment: newly-developed intelligent apps which offer the customer real added value during repairs therefore feature as the next objectives on his agenda.