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Lean manufacturing

Manufacturing activities have undergone major changes in all industries. Production has largely been moved to low-wage countries to cut costs and gain access to new markets. This has led to serious challenges for production managers.

In brief

Manufacturing activities have undergone major changes in all industries. Production has largely been moved to low-wage countries to cut costs and gain access to new markets. This has led to serious challenges for production managers. Sites that have remained in Europe and North America have to cope with ever-increasing price competition. What's more, production at the new locations has to meet customers' quality and service requirements, while at the same time fully exploiting potential cost advantages.

These trends will continue as globalization moves ahead. To tackle challenges and benefit from new opportunities, manufacturers have to operate with the highest quality and service standards while keeping costs low.

Our approach

With such improvement initiatives as Kanban, one-piece flow, advanced planning systems, overall equipment efficiency and self-directed work teams, manufacturing is undergoing an improvement revolution. But although each initiative has its own focus, the ideas and activities often overlap.

In our experience, the key to success is finding the right mix of approaches. We therefore tailor a combination of feasible, leading-edge practices to precisely address the company's problems. During the improvement process, we provide our clients with coaching and facilitation services. This means that we manage the process steps: we thoroughly analyze the problem, draw up strategies and implement actions to achieve measurable results. In order to ensure acceptance of the strategies, we make sure that production managers and functional experts are involved throughout the process.

Sample projects

Implementing best practices in global production

We developed a global production system for a leading automotive supplier whose service range covers production planning, shop-floor control, inter-company logistics and standard IT systems. The project focused on getting buy-in from all regional organizations to ensure that best practices were consistently implemented around the world.

Reducing production costs

We redefined the core competencies of a machine tool manufacturer's German operations. To this end, we optimized both manufacturing and assembly processes by introducing concepts such as one-piece flow and self-directed work teams in component production and slot times in assembly. In so doing, we helped the client to significantly reduce costs, inventory and throughput time.

Streamlining production overhead

We streamlined production overheads for a leading European printing company. More specifically, we introduced TPM concepts to increase equipment efficiency and reduce downtime. We also introduced a team system to replace overly hierarchical structures in production and increase worker involvement.

Further reading

think: act BUSINESS - COO Insights

think: act Business - COO Insights, 2011

Japan's predicament shows that the doctrine of radical international specialization, dogmatic interpretations of vendor-supplier relationships and a concentration on specific locations and suppliers are extremely vulnerable …  >>

 
Global Footprint Design

Study, 2010

Roland Berger Strategy Consultants studied the global footprint redesign of 58 companies from a variety of industries and geographies …  (PDF, 2137 KB)