Eurosilicone may have been viewed as a leader in plastic surgery technology and surgical practice marketing, but its manufacturing was a mess. The wake-up call came recently when the French company was bought by US firm MediCor, one of the world's biggest manufacturers of breast implants. With the global market growing at a rate of 20% a year, MediCor is pursuing rapid organic growth and expects its subsidiary to deliver increasing sales volumes and better service levels.
However, Eurosilicone's operation had no method for determining or maintaining appropriate stock levels. With no mid-term planning, production matched capacity to demand only when customer service failures showed an imbalance. Quality reject levels, too, were out of control.
MediCor called in WCI Consulting, which began a nine-month programme at Eurosilicone's HQ in Apt en Provence to implement lean manufacturing and effective planning processes. WCI designed a sales and operations planning process and built forecasting and capacity management models. It facilitated planning meetings until staff had the skills to run their own.
By analysing average variability and volume of demand for each product and sub-assembly, WCI determined a range of optimal replenishment techniques. It then built a simple electronic kanban planning system in Microsoft Access and linked it with Eurosilicone's Sage sales-order processing system to set stock levels and manage the daily replenishment process.
Manufacturing was redesigned according to lean principles, and a production and quality- control system put in place. Bar-coded production order cards link this system with planning and sales order processing - no more errors due to dodgy handwriting. Finally, a process for measuring and monitoring performance overall was developed.
Completed in July 2006, the programme has transformed Eurosilicone from 'a small company into a world-class manufacturing company', reckons Patrick O'Leary, president directeur general at Eurosilicone. The proof lies in capacity improvements of 100%, yield improvements of 40%, reductions in back-orders of 66% and reductions in lead time of 20%. Says O'Leary: 'Every facet of manufacturing has improved.'
OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE FINALISTS
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- Transfer knowledge to build a firm foundation for future developments.
- Apply performance metrics to deliver quantifiable benefits.
- Structure planning to shift the culture from being reactive to one that anticipates future issues and manages around them.