Arturo Medellín
General Manager
Staufen Americas
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View from the Top

Added Value Through People, Not Processes

By Alicia Arizpe | Tue, 08/25/2020 - 12:14

Q: What is Staufen Americas’ (Staufen) added value for the Mexican automotive industry?

A: Like many other companies, we offer lean management consulting for companies in Mexico. What sets us apart from our competitors is that we also develop the leaders who will implement and sustain the principles of lean management. Using lean management only as a tool is not effective in the long term. To ensure long-term sustainability of these principles, it is necessary to teach them to the leaders who will implement them and ensure they are maintained. We do not deliver processes, we deliver people.

The core of lean management is to do more with less by increasing the efficiency of processes and reducing unnecessary steps. Clients usually approach us with a series of problems they want to solve, for instance failing to reach delivery times, poorly-organized stock or low-quality products. We perform an initial evaluation of their practices using our own methodology, which allows us to identify the main issues, the tools to solve them and the approximate duration of the project.

Q: How do you ensure that communication with decision-makers goes both ways?

A: We have a methodology called Shop Floor Management that requires a series of meetings with the organization’s leaders, from the top down. After every meeting, we provide these leaders with feedback on their actions and analyze what they can do differently the next time.

Our methodology involves an evaluation of the client’s operational processes, the company’s leadership and the relationship between decision-makers and their subordinates. We have identified that in many cases, problems are caused by the company’s leadership and how they communicate and relate to their employees. A company’s poor performance or employee dissatisfaction can also be unrelated to salaries but more in line with a poor leadership. We also evaluate the company’s processes, including its lead and down times, to improve delivery times.

Q: How is Staufen helping its clients prepare for future market demand?

A: We work closely with OEMs, Tier 1s and Tier 2s. We focus on a company’s bottlenecks to help the process flow and reach the client. For instance, Staufen is working with a leading appliances company in Mexico to help make its shop floor and lean practices sustainable before undergoing a digital transformation. This process will provide a significant amount of information that can be used to identify problems and ensure a faster reaction to deviations.

We are training company leaders to use this information to tackle problems before they get out of hand. Clients are investing a significant amount of money and they want to see a return on investment as soon as possible, which we want to ensure. In the case of this company, the project will pay for itself in approximately one year. We are working with the company on two other pilot projects. We are training their team leaders to deploy lean manufacturing on their own. We start by being heavily involved in our projects and gradually step back so the corporate leadership can take over.

Q: How do you help automotive companies become more efficient and adaptable versions of themselves?

A: We try to make our clients more flexible by reducing cycle times and stock. This allows companies to be more competitive as they are able to react faster to market changes. It is never too late for companies to change and become more flexible. If they do not, they will be in a poor position as their competition moves forward. There will be a dark future for companies that are not prepared to face the rapid changes coming to the industry. If the need to change is pressing, our company has a restructuring division that can fix processes in as little as three months.

Q: What are Staufen’s main programs with the automotive industry?

A: We are working with a German OEM in Mexico to train its lower-tier management staff, who are called process supporters and are the first point of contact for operators when they run into trouble. In many cases, these process supporters were promoted to the position because they were the best operators in the company. However, they lack management and process experience. We have taught many process supporters the necessary skills and will continue working with this company through more training rounds.

Another program involves our Staufen Academy, which allied with the government of San Luis Potosi to train students and professionals from the local university who may be interested in lean management. This is a good opportunity for the university to work closely with the industry, which is a practice in which the local university in San Luis Potosi has room for improvement.

 

Staufen Americas is an international consultancy that works in the industrial, automotive, construction, finance, aviation and medical engineering sectors. The company is present in six countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia

Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer