Good Management is Based on Close Employee RelationsBy Jan Hogewoning | Wed, 05/06/2020 - 19:10
Q: How does your consultancy approach distinguish you from other companies?
HS: Our approach to consultancy is very simple: we make everything practical. Our business is not to come up with new management theories. We try to execute real changes and then ensure the client can sustain these new practices. Our projects are usually between three to six months, although they can be longer depending on the client and the situation.
JL: We are an American company that offers consultancy services dedicated to different areas: restructuring, relocation and consolidation of plant lines, due diligence and M&A. We only have a few projects in Mexico but we see great potential in this market, particularly in the automotive sector.
Our engagement is direct. The first stage of our process is to observe and conduct an assessment of the client’s operations. In this process, we engage with everyone at the plant, including those at the production floor. We believe that operators have significant knowledge about what is going on. There is no predetermined recipe to our approach because every client is different. The next phase is to stabilize the client’s operation. This means looking at all the places where there is inefficiency in the production flow. We try to reduce wasteful practices, increase efficiency and improve communication between employees. Our proposed modifications are based on KPIs formulated by the client. Once changes have been implemented, we ensure that actions can be sustained by training employees and having one of their managers participate in our team.
Q: Could you give an example of a successful project you managed?
JL: We recently worked with a Japanese company that had the goal of increasing its output per hour to 260 pieces from a rate of 40 pieces per hour. It was a very sophisticated production line. We held meetings with operators, supervisors and managers and came up with several changes. As a result, the company’s output rate went up significantly, while reducing waste by 50 percent.
Q: What are the most common practices that companies need to change in their manufacturing operations?
JL: Good management based on close attention to what is happening at the plant floor is the key to success. Many managers make bad decisions based on the wrong priorities, leading to waste of resources and potential. One very important aspect is good engagement with the staff. Every person at the company has their own expertise. Good communication also means maintaining warm relations with employees despite being in an executive position. A strong work culture allows teams to solve complex problems through collaborative thinking.
HS: Labor improvements also require greater inclusion. There are many in Mexico who suffer from down syndrome or autism but are perfectly capable of working. They are some of the most loyal and capable people you can have. We also believe that managers should do more to accommodate recent graduates to give them a place to learn their trade.
Q: How beneficial is automation for Mexican manufacturers?
HS: In Mexico, plant operators cost 20 times less than in Germany. For this reason, making a US$20 million investment in system automation is more attractive there than here. We believe that despite Industry 4.0 implementations, the human element will always exist. One of the goals of automation should be to grow the production output and to open more locations thus hiring more people, not less.