Gebr. Huybregts Group, Improvements in the operation

2014 – The Gebr. Huybregts Group in Tilburg, the Netherlands is one of the leading providers of logistics in the distribution of food and non-food products to major retailers. With 120 cars, the company provides  both dry transport and refrigerated transport, mainly in the Benelux and France. The company has three warehouses. It employs 100 drivers and 40 office workers, 50 employees in the shed and 5 people in the financial records.

Improvement in the operation
Last year, the company has invested in improvement in various processes in the operation. They used four analytical tools: Value Stream Mapping, Productivity Benchmark Analysis, Customer/process analysis and Person/job analysis. The latter, on the basis of three standards: autonomy, task identity and creativity. In addition, they started Kaizen Workshops: a lean program in which defects or problems in the operation are reported as input for improvements. Examples are: breakage, delivery to the wrong address, late delivery, etc. On the basis of these reports – which must be done in a uniform manner, a follow-up is planned. During the Kaizen workshop staff analyze the causes of the disruption in the process. In follow-up sessions short, medium and long term solutions are discussed.

Approach
At the start, the project was presented to the management team and then in a meeting with the Kaizen team members. Employees of different product groups participated in the Kaizen group. They saw it as something special to be involved, which sparked the enthusiasm. To maintain support all (medium-term) improvement actions and the state of the actions were made visible on a plate. Also there is a suggestion box where employees can bring potential improvements. The employees always get back how their ideas will be implemented, or why a proposal will not be used. To enable staff  to participate in a Kaizen group, training is provided in analyzing causes, formulating solutions and giving feedback. Staff also receive other training courses, such as ‘economical driving’ and ‘driving in a new way’.

Results
Employees feel more involved and taken seriously. Compared to other projects such as the ‘economical driving’ it is harder to identify concrete results of the Kaizen workshops, for example in terms of savings in working hours. The reduction of the execution time of a job from 8 to 7 hours can only be appointed as a target. However, it can already be stated that the planning has become less hectic. Customer reactions relate primarily to activities related to sustainability. The label “lean and green" (lean and sustainable), with which the company promises to reduce emissions, has a positive feedback. In the long run it would be perfect if the customer would join the thinking about the improvement of the operation in relation to the delivery of goods.

Preconditions
Employees must be scheduled to participate in a Kaizen session. In fact it often concerns employees who can hardly be missed at the shop floor. The motivation for participating in a lean process can be facilitated by presenting appealing and recognizable examples. Support from the management team is necessary to start. Apart from the feedback of the results, communication to the employees about what is going to happen, what the benefits are and what has already happened, is of great importance. Also communication is necessary to prevent relapse to the old situation. By setting a steering group with key figures from the business, employees will feel that the project is supported by those who are responsible.

More information
For more information see the company’s website: www.huybregts.nl and www.socialeinnovatiebrabant.nl