Sensei Masaaki Imai (father of kaizen and the founder of the Kaizen Institute) once said famously, “The future would belong to those companies that can successfully navigate the downswings & upturns in demand, without unduly stressing system (breathing supply chain). It is the hallmark of a truly great organisation!”
The initiative & its ethos
The Integrated Manufacturing Excellence Initiative (IMexI) is an excellence recognition programme by Kaizen Hansei, a strategic partner with the Kaizen Institute. It is a pedigreed initiative with a single-minded focus to further the cause of building future-ready and efficient manufacturing organisations. Creating a credible platform to recognise the velocity of supply chain transformation amongst like-minded peers is core to the theme of IMexI (www.imexi.org). The hallmark of this programme is that it is based on the tenets of continuous improvement, something which is mandated globally in whatever has to be done under the aegis of Kaizen. Peer applause and standing would naturally & meritoriously follow.
Participants will draw benefits through this process, through the rich experience of assessors. Not only are they trained along an established way of transformation but also their wide experience of having visited multiple & advanced organisations will result in inputs that can expedite the time to excellence.
The assessment ideology
The IMexI framework showcases a three-way look at organisational excellence. Arguably, this is where it derives its uniqueness. It evaluates initiatives and activities that build excellence, sustain excellence & strengthen the cause of continuous improvement (all is well, so long as today is better than yesterday and tomorrow is being planned to be better than today).
The IMexI framework
Manufacturing supply chain excellence is neither an accident nor is it something that can happen without proper capabilities & planning. It happens when visionary planning is ably complemented by meticulous & resolute implementation excellence and topped with adequate amounts of policy deployment-based monitoring. The IMexI assessment is based on a smart set of lean checkpoints that are observed and graded on a 4-point graded maturity scale (terminology of parameters & tools is not important. What is important is the existence of an effectively deployed ‘good’ manufacturing practice).
The framework emphasises not only the present state of excellence across the supply chain organisation but also screens and reviews the peripheral activities & processes that go to building & sustaining a robust & lean organisation – one that is perennially on the path of continuous improvement.
The framework comprises the –
Vision setting enablers
Deployment centric drivers
All-important process excellence parameters
Sustenance centric direction settings
The above is depicted suitably in the self-explanatory model, illustrated below.
The on-site assessment methodology embodies this very principle, with a sound evaluation of the very foundations (the enablers) that culturally make up any manufacturing organisation (including customer alignment). It further goes on to evaluate the direction and effectiveness of deploying this into reality (employing the drivers involved as well as the direction setting initiatives undertaken). Process excellence initiatives are reviewed, to assess the leanness and flexibility of operations, including the extended supply chain. Having a roadmap and adoption of appropriate technology (automation/smart/predictive analytics/Machine Learning/AI/IIoT, etc) and the ability to innovate to derive competitive advantage are assessed to complete the assessment of the site.
A few things in the model may be worth reiterating –
It addresses not only the current state of excellence but also checks for the effectiveness and efficiency of capabilities/activities that build and sustain excellence.
Enablers represent the values and principles that define the organisation. A sound foundation is what holds up the OpEx initiatives.
Drivers & direction settings largely refer to matters of effective policy deployment and rendering of discipline in sustaining good manufacturing practices.
Enhancers are to signify the fact that product/process innovation and excellence through digitisation is here to stay. It has become an integral part of the planning of progressive management, with a clear aim to gain competitive advantage.
Process excellence refers to the parameters represented by P, Q, D, C, S, M and other lean related metrics.
Results refer to financial as well as operational metrics, which usually improve when good manufacturing practices are sustained for a couple of quarters. Financial metrics, like the profitability and turns ratios, the asset turnover ratio, sales margin, contribution margin and operational metrics show a gradual improvement, the pace of which is decided by effort & circumstances.
The scorecard and associated data representation/analysis are aimed at providing a logical cascading down to prioritised points for action. Weights for various factors and subfactors have been evolved based on the Kaizen Manufacturing Excellence Model and is a balanced mix of all the three tenets that constitute the Kaizen ideology.
The scorecard, when viewed along with the assessment observations/recommendations, will present an effective way to revisit and review the effectiveness of ongoing OpEx initiatives. Besides acknowledging superior performance, the scorecard will zoom in from a top level score to gradually and eventually narrowing down to the important opportunities pertinent to OpEx that need to be improved upon.
The advisory and link to CI
The focus of the programme being to further the cause of CI, the senior assessors and lean experts who constitute the assessment team will aim to deliver advisory that will serve as inputs to the local champions and the operational excellence teams.
The advisory value that this programme brings to the participants will not only serve as an outside-in validation of the OpEx work that is in progress but will further reinforce and complement the initiatives by giving incremental and fresh (possibly) suggestions. These, when incorporated into the internal review mechanism for effective implementation, will reinforce the initiative and better realise the benefits of becoming a lean & mean organisation that can be leveraged.
The prize canvas
The recognition deliverable of the programme will categorise participating sites into various maturity bands, denoted as the Certificate Zone and thereon, progressing to the Silver Medal Zone, followed progressively by the Gold and Platinum Medal Zone. The 800 plus zone is denoted as the IMexI zone, with the qualifiers being termed as IMexI Challengers and IMexI Prize Winners. The recognition is valid for two years, though the facility can choose to aim for the next higher band in successive years. Super performers may be further acknowledged in the Global Kaizen Congress (tentative).
The advisory panel
The advisory panel that oversees the administration of the prize programme consists of senior industry stalwarts and senior policymakers, besides senior kaizen personalities. The advisory panel lends credibility to the process and has the right to ask questions of the governing committee, to reassure themselves that the due processes are being followed.
All assessment travels and meetings will be COVID-compliant as per the existing regulations, Kaizen standards and also the requirements of the assessee site. For more details, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The way forward – See the glass as half full
As the economy starts to get back, compliant to the new normal, so will companies & supply chains. It may not be wrong to state that with its due share of challenges, Q4 should be good and the next year even better (2021 was expected to be a benchmark year, had COVID not happened).
IMexI Prize programme is designed to be an intellectual and expert forum to engage with the operation personnel in one’s facilities & render one’s manufacturing future ready. Manufacturing companies can nominate their sites for the programme now and schedule assessment as per their readiness between November 2020 and February 2021.
The hard mull
Experts suggest that over 80% of all transformational efforts don't see the eventual result, for exactly this reason. Somewhere in the ‘transformation to excellence’ process, the key stakeholders and ‘torchbearers’ run out of patience, start to desire quicker results and ultimately start prioritising other shorter gains over their needs for operational excellence. It gets prioritised out. Organisations need stamina (including to a large extent, top management resolve and patience) to not lose sight of the larger long-term good, without showering full attention to the short-term needs – firefighting or otherwise.
We sincerely hope that this doesn't get to be the case. The economy cannot afford a message to go out to the industry that manufacturing excellence is compromise-able when faced with a crisis. As companies go about debating, finalising and actioning their plan B and plan C for such pandemic situations, they will need to factor this part of business continuity as well and derisk the matter. Years of hard work cannot be allowed to be seen as being of dispensable priority.
The new mantra is now official – ‘Make in India, Make for the World’. Excellence has to stay. Manufacturing excellence cannot be deemed as a casualty of COVID.
Courtesy: Kaizen Hansei