Simply the Best

2 mins read

Brose’s Coventry plant has just won Britain’s Best Factory Award from Cranfield University. Works Management asks Steve Bartholomew, a director at the site, for the winning formula

Q - How did it feel to win the Factory of the Year Award at the BFAs?

“A very proud moment, which we see as an acknowledgement of the massive improvement made. This also provides a level of motivation which is key to maintaining our current level and improving further.”

Q - What would you define as your biggest manufacturing challenges?

“Our plant makes seat structures/frames, window regulators, door systems and latches for automotive OEMs. The biggest manufacturing challenges have been to achieve the required skill levels across all functions, and dealing with the speed of growth.”

Q - The site has gone from 120 people in 2009 to 900 now: how have you fostered a togetherness and team focused work ethic in the midst of such a rapid expansion?

“The first step towards the togetherness and work ethic has been the Leadership Training Programme. Other key activities have been the creation/combination of value streams and the input from all levels within the plant/Brose to participate in workshops to improve their working environment. “

Q - How does a plant in Coventry with the associated overheads of operating in the UK keep ahead of an international rival in a lower cost environment?

“The way in which we constantly challenge both internally, externally and competitors has been via the lean approach in defining and implementing our new value stream layouts. Regular reviews of OEE, scrap and PPH (measurement of productivity by recording the number of parts produced per person per hour) have driven a continuous improvement approach. We also encourage and celebrate success with our teams.

Q - Your faults per part, per million (PPM) levels decreased by 55% between 2014 and 2015, and they are projected to fall by 90% in 2016; how are you delivering these improvements?

“This has been driven by a greater quality vision within the plant. Measures taken include: performing quality analysis on the shop-floor with the introduction of parts defect tables; use of key quality tools to derive root cause analysis such as 5 why, IS/IS NOT analysis and 8D. More complex issues have been tackled with the Six Sigma process.”

Q - How did you celebrate the BFA win with the employees back on site?

“We plan a celebration in December, combined with our Christmas party. In the meantime, we’ve highlighted success on the shopfloor display screen, published an article on the Brose global intranet and promoted the win at our town hall meetings.”

Q - What were the definitive Continuous Improvement tools in delivering your success?

“Six Sigma, value stream mapping and Method Time Measurement (MTM).”

Q - How have you delivered 32% floor space reduction per product line in the last 12 months and continued to meet your KPIs?

“The reduction has been made by defining an overall plant layout concept with a predicted reduction in footprint. Each value stream was then tasked with providing a layout to have best flow for both production and logistics. During the process the operators were involved to provide feedback and ideas.”

Q - How have you engaged your people in innovation and process improvement?

“People have been made responsible and have accepted the ownership to improve their work area. They have been involved in workshops and encouraged to submit ideas for improvements. The setting of challenging targets has driven people to deliver an ‘out of the box’ approach. The company newsletter has been successful in identifying and celebrating the successes made within the plants.”

Q - What’s your top advice to other management teams who want to improve their factory’s performance?

“The key is to provide a clear vision with challenging goals and objectives, giving ownership to the value streams to meet the targets. An essential element is also a regular review of the status of key projects and provision of support, training and coaching if required.”

The Best Factory Awards are run by Cranfield University’s School of Management and have operated since 1991. For more details on the awards click here:

See the Brose site for yourself by signing up to WM's exclusive factory tour visit on 6 December. Click here.