ALP 2018

Learning from the best - Excellence in Lean

The 13th Congress Automotive Lean Production took place on the 6th and 7th of November 2018 in Bremen. The Mercedes-Benz plant opened the doors to its plant for the guests of the congress.

The winners 2018 at a glance:

OEM: Volkswagen AG, Wolfsburg plant

The Wolfsburg plant has a very high level of complexity, last but not least because of the dimension of the plant.
Making such a large plant lean and fit for the future requires breakthrough goals that are supported by all stakeholders. These were agreed as part of the Wolfsburg Plant Future Pact, planning an increase in productivity of 15% in total for the first 2 years and a further 10% for the years 3 and 4.

To come right to the point. The desired productivity goals were exceeded in the first year and, we are fully on track in the second year. What are the keys to success?

  • Concise and yet easily understood plant strategy for all employees
  • A change story coordinated between plant management and works council
  • Extensive implementation of the plant strategy using a "top down and bottom up strategy"
  • KPI monitors for management and controlling of lean activities
  • Consistent implementation of the integrated concept for a rework-free factory

Even if the potential of the plant is far from being exhausted, the plant is moving in the right direction. The extensive speed of improvement achieved by the Wolfsburg plant in the past 24 months is impressive.

Supplier: Magna Mirrors, plant Polinya, Spain

The Spanish plant of the Mirror Group began its Lean Transformation in 2001 with the training of its employees and with a first cultural change driven by management. The first sustainable progress has been achieved in orderliness and cleanliness, shop floor management, standardization, switching to a One Piece Flow, initial comprehensive layout optimization and the introduction of Kanban control loops.

Five years later, the plant had to face a very big challenge, as the production of sun visors was relocated to the factory, which accounted for a significant proportion of sales. The plant was put to a tough test. Major qualitative problems had to be overcome and processes had to be fundamentally revised. In addition, a significant number of employees, who had previously not worked according to the principles of the factory, had to be integrated into the factory. The lean foundation and a culture of improvement have made it possible to cope with this challenge, which has significantly affected the quality and productivity indicators.

After the stabilization phase, the production system MAFACT (Magna Factory Concept) was consequently driven forward. The continuous improvement process was consistently further developed based on key figures at all management levels and in all areas. Variable incentive systems were created for the entire workforce. Control loops and processes have been consistently improved, and standardization at the factory has been further promoted to make processes robust. 

The pronounced lean spirit can be felt everywhere in the factory; e.g. on the control loops in the new projects, where the project team before SOP and afterwards is working closely with the production staff on the improvements to ensure a smooth start and eliminate waste from the beginning. It has developed a strongly preventive culture, which really lives the continuous improvement process.

This not only has an impact on employee satisfaction and a high attendance rate, but also shows a strong increase in the introduced and implemented ideas, and, in turn, the sense of responsibility of the employees for their area, for their facilities, for orderliness and cleanliness not least for the optimization of processes.


Special Award "Excellent Enterprise System": Iveco S.p.A., plant Madrid, Spain

"Kaizen in Madrid is a way of life" - This is how Manuel Mansilla (Plant Manager) describes the culture at the CNH plant in Madrid.
This motto perfectly captures the lived culture. Based on a consistent and outstanding application of World Class Manufacturing (WCM), FCA's production system, the factory has secured numerous awards in recent years. In April 2017 Madrid became the first plant in the CNH Industrial Group to receive WCM Gold.

The plant, which manufactures 6 series in one line, is faced with very high product complexity. More than approximately 26,000 item numbers must be managed to ensure friction-free production.
The WCM concept of continuous improvement with the involvement of all employees is carried out extremely effectively.

Not only the involvement of the employees down to the operator level is consistent and very successful, but also the elimination of waste is implemented excellently and is exceptionally well structured. In addition, the tools and methods are developed consistently. Best practice benchmarking is a perfect match for daily improvement measures.

The young management team is constantly integrating the employees at all levels and creating the prerequisites for active participating in the continuous improvement process. This reflects in the very high number of ideas contributed per employee, the numerous clever Poka Yoke solutions and LCA manufacturing solutions developed by the staff.

The four-stage Kaizen approach - from Quick Kaizen to Advanced Kaizen is perfectly prioritized, used and tracked. The Kaizen projects are consistently developed according to the given methods of the problem-solving circle. In addition, each Kaizen assesses employee qualification through applied methods before and after the project. Thanks to excellent key data transparency, the measures can be immediately measured for effectiveness. In addition, the throughput times of the Kaizen projects are measured and these have been steadily reduced in recent years.

„Special Award – Lean Transformation“: Poppe GmbH, Gießen plant

Spring 2018 at last saw us achieve our aim! A fresh breeze blows through the Gießen plant of Poppe GmbH. The company is back on the road to success.

The introduction of a value stream-oriented organization allowed the focus to be redirected back to the overall production. The establishment of a team-based work organization went hand in hand with the definition of the standards, redefining in particular the interfaces to other areas, such as logistics, quality and maintenance. It was decisive for the success that the changes were developed together with the employees. The communication was as open and easy as possible. Every employee should understand why the changes were so important.

A multi-level qualification concept supported the change in the organization and the understanding of work. Backed by the successful training, the 5S introduction took place, extensively in the entire Gießen plant – equally for indirect and direct areas. A pragmatic audit system has been used until today, ensuring that the established standards are pursued and constantly improved.

The next step in lean transformation was the introduction of a tailor-made shop floor management that has now become a veritable improvement machine.

It is not least due to the support of the works council that this change is lived out. It is important for them that the employees were always informed in an open and honest manner about the procedure and that they were permanently involved.

The development of the key metrics (e.g. quality, production efficiency, backlogs, order lead times) also took a positive course. Moreover, the lean journey is still far from the end. The plant with its consistent focus on lean principles is now very well able to meet the challenges of the future and to bring its value stream performance to a higher level.

"Excellent Assembly Plant“: BMW India Pvt Ltd, Chennai Plant

"Incredible" - this describes perfectly the accomplishments in BMW's SKD plant in the rural region, 60 kilometre south of the metropolis of Chennai. The award recognizes the outstanding implementation of the BMW production system in a very complex environment.

The SKD plant has two special features: a complex worldwide logistics and a high number of production starts. The latter take place only a few months after the SOP in the lead plant, but have to be integrated into an existing production environment, having already a high cycle spread due to the diversity of derivatives. For example, the launch of the Mini was among the best within the entire group.

Also in the Chennai plant, the basis is the BMW production system. For this purpose, the production network 2 has developed its own maturity excellence model, which includes not only the WPS but also EFQM elements. Boards in production, checklists and coaching by the executives are used on the shop floor to guide the team and the process leader on their way to excellence.

The plant's management team, supported by the production network 2, has managed to find a perfect balance between the strengths of the BMW production system with the talents, creativity and competitive spirit of its Indian employees. Exemplary for this are the multitude of low-cost digitization solutions, which were developed on their own initiative for the plant.

Gallery review 2018

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