This is an article summarised from "The Manufacturer.com" an interesting website.....although many of the techniques talked about were in use in the Semiconductor Industry 15 to 20 years ago, but it is still good to see them being applied well in this company who are making an old product new....
David Bailey is factory manger of Twining’s Andover plant where 230 staff are dedicated to the production of specialty teas. The factory shift patterns cover seven days a week to process, blend and dispatch 1.8 billion tea bags and 3000 tonnes of leaf tea each year. The product range is segmented into Classics, which are refined, traditional tasting teas, followed by the more delicate Light Classics. Aromatics are richly scented teas, of which Earl Grey is the most famous example. Then there are combinations of fine teas with fruit or flower flavours, followed by reserve loose tea blends for true connoisseurs. Output from Andover is destined principally for the 120 countries that represent Twining’s export market.“Specialty teas account for just 10 per cent of the overall market, but that is the focus of our business here. We have deliberately positioned ourselves at the opposite end of the spectrum away from high volume commodity black tea blends,” Bailey explained. “First and foremost, Twining is a marketing company that seeks to capitalise on the value of the brand and centuries of expertise in the art of tea blending. In specialty teas, it is all about finding the right blend that will become a lifelong favourite. We would love, for example, to come up with another Earl Grey, which is a major part of our sales.” One of the principal factors that underpins Twining’s success is the sheer breadth of the range of specialty tea varieties and blends that make up the Twining’s portfolio. “While other manufacturers are seeking to simplify production, our position in the marketplace dictates that we do the reverse. Managing complexity is the secret of our success and managing more complexity is what the future holds.”Bailey joined Twining four years ago after a long manufacturing career with blue chip companies such as Colgate. His challenge was to transform the Andover facility into a world class manufacturing operation. Bailey believes that it is critical to start out understanding the current situation relative to a vision of the future. “When I joined the company, the first task was to measure the site’s performance. This site came in as a traditional manufacturing environment of long runs, low OEE and rigid demarcation on the production lines,” he explained. From a manufacturing perspective the site needs to be geared to produce numerous different blends in small runs. Machine downtime, critical in our early development, is thus less relevant than fast changeovers, which are becoming ever more critical. “Our broad product range is a key strength in the marketplace and in future there will be more new product development, which implies shorter and shorter runs,” he explained. One of his most important accomplishments to date has seen the average changeover time on the 20 different lines reduced by over 50 per cent. Given that each line must make 15 to 20 changeovers every week, the potential for enhanced productivity is immediately apparent. Single minute exchange of die, (SMED) is thus a key process. “As you shorten changeover time you can do shorter runs and then start to reduce inventory. It is also a key process in enabling us to get closer to the customer as it means that we can make to order. As soon as the product is date coded it is starting to age so a fast throughput is essential,” he explained. SMED is one of several methodologies that have been systematically applied to the site. He explained that mapping out a strategy to attain Twining’s vision has involved three main approaches. Total productive management (TPM) is the first. He believes that maintenance, which is often used in place of management, typically sends any director to sleep and so prefers a different meaning to the accepted phraseology. “For me, TPM is fundamentally about engaging people on the shopfloor and enabling them to use OEE (operating equipment effectiveness) as a tool to understand and overcome the barriers that are preventing the organisation from becoming world class,” he commented. Secondly, he has sought to implement a mind shift to continuous flow manufacturing. “This has allowed us to seek out improvements in many areas such as transport, inventory, waste, over production and over processing defects,” he said. The final approach has involved implementing what Bailey terms as ‘Open Socio-technical systems’. “Basically, this means designing your people development processes in line with your technical processes. It is the glue that holds everything together and means making sure that the leadership puts in place values and a vision driven culture that involves and engages people. For example, we believe in involving our technicians and operators in every stage of the design and installation of new machinery. If the first time an operator sees a machine is when it is installed, you have missed the opportunity to gain their improvement ideas and will never obtain optimum performance.” When Bailey joined Twining the factory was operating at around 40 OEE on an index of 100. Today the plant as a whole measures 60 OEE while the high speed, high volume lines, that produce the major volumes, run continuously at around 70 OEE. His goal is to see the plant operating at 80 to 85 OEE, which is seen as world class performance. “Then we will be able to truly describe ourselves as a world class manufacturing organisation. To close the gap, what we need now is a shift to higher level problem solving and that will be the next step forward. Facilitating a culture change that enables our teams to solve problems for themselves has taken a long time to get up and running, but now it is in place, it is worth its weight in gold,” he concluded.