October 2023 – The heavy machinery sector faces unprecedented challenges in a post-pandemic world. With new machine sales declining between 10% and 25% across various markets during the pandemic, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) faced the challenge of revenue pressures. OEMs also encountered the task of ensuring machine uptime and quality for their customers while simultaneously developing innovative, technologically advanced, and sustainable products for the future.
To remain competitive in the long term, OEMs must adopt proactive and pragmatic strategies that allow them to weather the economic storm and emerge stronger on the other side. In this blog, we will delve deeper into the culture of continuous improvement as a foundation for enabling OEMs to thrive during these challenging times.
A common thread among industry leaders in the sector, regardless of their competitive edge and niche, is the presence of a strong and embedded culture of continuous improvement across the entire organisation.
The Toyota Production System and Honda Automobile Production Systems acted as pioneers of Lean methodologies being introduced into automobile manufacturing, resulting in Lean principles rapidly becoming the fundamental core of automobile manufacturing and its benefits have since radiated across the broader landscape of manufacturing. Despite the advantages that these principles can deliver, such as service, quality, cost, employee engagement and sustainability, the aftermarket sector has been slower to fully adopt Lean methodologies.
A successful Heavy Machinery organisation consistently refines its processes, structures, and systems, embracing a holistic culture centred on continuous improvement. There are five critical elements that set apart organisations who integrate continuous improvement:
- Committed Leadership: Prioritising upskilling and the recruitment of effective leaders who champion change, embodying continuous improvement through their behaviours and alignment with the organisation’s values
- Engaged People: Creating an environment that empowers employees to unlock their potential and consistently deliver their best performance is vital to driving company performance and customer satisfaction
- Systematic Use of Tools: Formal capability-building programmes are essential to ensure that employees possess the technical and behavioural competencies needed to drive and sustain improvements
- Supporting Infrastructure: Organisational, physical, and digital infrastructure play a pivotal role in providing areas for deliberate practice of CI ways of working
- Time & Benefits: Mechanisms are put in place to ensure that improvements yield timely and strategically aligned benefits
Implementing Lean tools and techniques in a systematic and engaging manner, ensuring sustained improvements, is less than straightforward. The organisations that master this art and embrace this embedded culture of continuous improvement tend to be the industry leaders, characterised by their agility and proactive approach to change.
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