The electronics specialist Insta has set out on the path to becoming a learning organization. To achieve its goal, this company in the Sauerland is relying especially on coaching of the employees. The principle of constant improvement should ensure on all teams that new requirements are implemented more quickly.
Insta GmbH of Lüdenscheid is one of the most innovative companies in its industry. Whether in the industrial electronics, building technology, Internet of Things, or smart home sector – this technology pro is always a reliable partner that stands by its customers. The rapid developments in industry do not allow companies to rest on their laurels. This BestPractice partner of Staufen AG has therefore been on a lean journey for ten years, one that keeps it agile and capable of transformation. “The professionalization of Shop Floor Management was the biggest lever for setting the organization in motion and encouraging a higher maturity level,” is how Head of Production Heinz Floren sums up the intermediate progress. “We introduced a different communication speed to the organization and were able to master crises such as Corona.”
Achieving the defined breakthrough targets
“Communication works very well,” confirms Stephan Filthuth, Head of Supply Chain at Insta. Meanwhile, thanks to established Shop Floor Management, the company has achieved a maturity level that enables it to take further steps along the path to becoming a learning organization. “Now the concern is to speed up the implementation; to do this, we must reinforce our colleagues’ own sense of responsibility,” says Stephan Filthuth. In Kata (see box), the Insta management has an improvement method for achieving the defined breakthrough targets in the individual production areas. “After Shop Floor Management and the evolution of goals according to Hoshin Kanri, Kata is the next gear for putting the horsepower on the street,” says Lean Office & Kata coach Maximilian Reintke.
Kata is a term from the martial arts: Through constant practice and application of a procedure, this procedure should become a routine, which can be called up very quickly if needed. Lean expert and author Mike Rother makes a distinction between the improvement Kata and the coaching Kata. The improvement Kata focuses on gradually approaching a defined goal state using a learning routine. The coaching Kata is based on the interaction between the learner (generally employees) and the coach (generally their manager). Proper application of the improvement Kata is supported by the coaching Kata.
Reinforcing employees’ own sense of responsibility
In six projects thus far, the team’s own sense of responsibility was reinforced so that team members would learn the Kata method and it would reach a lot of people. One project was the optimized supply of assembly islands with the tugger train. “The goal was to guarantee island supply with one person, and at the same time, to shorten supply and disposal cycles,” explains Kata coach Reintke. “Work was done with an eye to value stream by an interdisciplinary team from Production and Logistics.” In the Kata process, employees learned to analyze the entire cycle and detect waste in all process areas, such as the fitting and tailoring of the tugger train.
Insta managers were also enthusiastic about the project because it did not come “from above”; instead, the idea arose from the team. Head of Supply Chain Filthuth: “There was no problem with the island supply, nevertheless the team set the goal of halving the work required for supply with the tugger train.” Now, the project participants are functioning as multipliers, carrying the insights from this Kata project to their own teams. If you have the courage to change things, you can gain an advantage; Maximilian Reintke is convinced of this. Kata is like a flashlight that you can use to illuminate things that you never saw before.
After Shop Floor Management and the evolution of goals according to Hoshin Kanri, Kata is the next gear for putting the horsepower on the street.Maximilian Reintke
Lean Office & Kata coach, Insta gmbh
Thorough preparation as a success factor
Nevertheless, the coaching is not an easy sell. “It took a long time to prepare,” says Head of Production Floren. “Even with Shop Floor Management and the evolution of goals, we included the employees. If we had not had this maturity level, we would have run aground with Kata. You must have a solid basis to start such projects.” Staufen consultants conducted the first coachings. Meanwhile, the erstwhile mentees have themselves become mentors, who are advancing the organization with coaching. Stephan Filthuth adds: “We are all technicians here and we have to learn that the approach for how we work with people beyond figures and facts is a crucial key. Hierarchies are playing less of a role, cohesion is improving. With Kata, we removed functional hurdles.”
In the future, Insta is planning four Kata projects per quarter. They should ensure that the company becomes more scalable and can also prepare itself faster for changed framework conditions. “Insta has become a company that truly improves constantly. With Kata, the team has discovered the joy of experimentation, one of the necessities for becoming a learning organization,” is the way Staufen partner Dr. Werner Laub sums things up. He has accompanied Insta on this path for many years.
Head of Production
Insta GmbH of Lüdenscheid, a specialist in building and light automation. The company produces assembly groups, devices, and control systems. In the process, about 250 million SMT components are fitted each year. In addition, Insta is a think tank for the future of building automation. Most recently, the company recorded sales of EUR 75 million.