Kuhn, Education and World Class Manufacturing

2014 – Kuhn in Geldrop, the Netherlands  is a manufacturer of agricultural machinery. Kuhn wants to distinguish itself in the market and produces to customer specifications. The employees need to understand what the customer wants. The company invests traditionally and heavily in training and has launched World Class Manufacturing (WCM) two years ago. At Kuhn Geldrop 400 employees are working;  globally Kuhn has 2800 employees.

Education and World Class Manufacturing
The changing market demands smart production. Therefore, Kuhn started with World Class Manufacturing WCM. Improvement teams were formed with employees from different departments. At the same time, they started a training program WCM at MBO level. The improvement teams led by an external consultant,  analyze  production problems and perform measurements to reduce waste and stock and thus improve productivity. This is done to obtain a structural improvement of operations, a better output, and a higher quality of  product and to promote the cooperation between the departments.

Approach
In plenary meetings the what and why of the project was explained. People who had problems with the training program – it concerns employees who are working with the company for 30 to 40 years – could contact HRM and appropriate solutions for them were sought. For example, they did not participate in the analysis, but were involved  in the implementation phase. In an earlier project ‘learning at  the workplace’ was already facilitated by appointing familiar  trainers. The training course takes place during working hours (also for the people who work in shifts). The improvement teams are composed of employees from different departments. The department decide who is sent. Improvement Teams also analyze errors from other departments/machines. It is important not to point to employees as the ones who would have caused a failure and also the way something is discussed, is important. Each improvement team has  the freedom to introduce improvements. In this respect employees were encouraged to propose small improvements in the first place, which are enforceable in the short term.

Results
The production is more efficient. Cost and quality are better balanced and the product is at a higher level. De process fosters collaboration between disciplines and departments. Employees see the process as a whole in which everyone contributes. They have more understanding for each other and they work together to a final solution. More products can be delivered with fewer people. The jobs of the employees  become enlarged, according to the persons’ competences. Working with WCM makes the company attractive to new employees.

Preconditions
Top down communication and support in the company  show that everybody stands behind  the project. It is important that the process is organized in such a way that employees are able to find  themselves in it.  All initiated projects should go ahead, even if it is busy. Within an improvement team everyone should kept in his or her value. Giving people the feeling that something is being done with their ideas and if necessary explaining why that’s not happening yet  and when will be done. Solving even small things and showing results are important as well.

Reference
For more information, see the company’s website: www.kuhn.com; and see: www.socialeinnovatiebrabant.nl .

Thema’s: smart working

Sector: High tech, new materials

Source: case