The Heinz Global Performance System (HGPS) has now been rolled out to 25 factories around the world in a bid to standardise continuous improvement (CI) activities.
In recent months, Heinz has broadened its approach to CI in an attempt to move beyond operations to encompass the whole supply chain, said John de Poot, leader, continuous improvement, supply chain Europe.
De Poot, who was speaking at a webinar organised by the World Trade Group, said: “Continuous improvement often focuses just on operations, whereas our vision is to cover the total value chain including sales and marketing, innovation and R&D - not just manufacturing. That’s what we want to develop into the future.”
The HGPS was developed two years ago because bosses felt a more co-ordinated approach to CI was needed, said De Poot. “The challenge is how to continue to meet aggressive business targets in a stagnating economy. There were pockets of success and a lot of good initiatives in local sites through TPM (total productive management/maintenance), lean and other things. But we were reinventing the wheel in many situations and we saw an opportunity to align best practice into one Heinz global improvement programme.”
Standardised key performance indicators (KPIs)
A key part of the approach was to standardise metrics for measuring everything from asset reliability to supply planning, quality improvement, supplier improvement and communications, he said. “It’s about common sets of KPIs as well as a structured approach that you can use in every factory or organisation.”
“Over the past 15 months, we’ve rolled out the programme to 25 sites in North America and Europe including the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland and Russia. But we’ve also started in Indonesia and Australia.”
Success at Heinz Kitt Green
Continuous improvement work has already delivered some impressive results at Heinz’s Kitt Green factory in Wigan, which was able to cut weekend working in beans and soup as machine availability and reliability improved. It has also been able to deliver improvements in customer service while reducing stock levels.
While there was some cynicism about the scheme when it was launched, especially in sites that had been through several cycles of continuous improvement, benefits would come by sticking to the plan, he said. “It can be hard to sustain if you lose focus in the first year, but changing a culture can take three to five years. Implementing the global performance system will require employee momentum over five to seven years with multiple phases and roll-outs, but continuous improvement never ends.”