US chemicals giant DuPont had historically focused its resources on execution and safety, with a relatively low investment in people development. This all changed in 2006 with the roll-out of the organisation’s own productivity initiative, the DuPont Production System (DPS) which, as of 2009, has been powered by TRACC. Since then, the development of its people and the rapid deployment of best practice across its global operations has become DuPont’s most important instrument for future growth and sustainability. In fact, the extraordinary speed and efficiency with which the corporation is achieving this, has become a benchmark for others to follow. At the TRACC Africa Middle East Conference held in Johannesburg, DPS programme champion for DuPont EMEA, Thomas Pfeiffer, explained how they make it happen.
The DuPont Production System (DPS)
In his presentation Pfeiffer described how, through the implementation of the DPS, employee mindsets have changed at all levels in order to take the organisation from the reactive ‘fire fighting’ environments to that of achieving operational excellence and value creation for customers. The focus of the system is to standardise and improve managing and operating practices across the organisation’s operating base. “We want to do three things with the DPS,˝ said Pfeiffer. ˝We want to drive operating discipline through best practices, align a diverse, global organisation and drive bottom line returns.˝
The DPS consists of four core enabling elements — managing processes, a technical pillar, capability building, and mindsets and behaviours. Global roll-out of DPS was preceded by data gathering, a comprehensive diagnostic and finally the design and planning of the process. Initially two pilot sites were identified — one in the US and one in Europe. “DuPont has a wide variety of products and processes, from batch to continuous, and we had to prove that a system such as DPS can be applied successfully in all these environments.” Another equally important consideration was to ensure that the system was proportionately applicable in different cultural environments.
DPS Meets TRACC
In 2009, DuPont identified a need for a systematic, shop floor-driven approach to implement and sustain best practices for operating discipline. A rigorous selection process saw TRACC being selected to support and sustain all these aspects in a standardised manner across DuPont’s global operations. This, in itself, presented a few unique challenges. “By its very nature, DuPont has an experimental and inventive culture. It is in our DNA. We’re not fond of standardisation, and now it had to be implemented across the business!” Pfeiffer said. Another challenge was the fact that DPS had already been rolled out to 18 sites, including some of the largest sites in DuPont’s portfolio. “The biggest test proved to be our own mindset. We had already developed change agents in all these sites and they owned the DPS process. Suddenly they had to align and integrate this with TRACC. This proved to be a good test for our ability to learn and adjust fast.”
We want to drive operating discipline through best practices, align a diverse, global organisation and drive bottom line returns.
Centralised Guidance and Support; Decentralised Line-Led Execution
The DPS TRACC programme is being driven by the Global Programme Management Office (GPMO). At the beginning, central resources mapped the TRACC content to the DPS architecture and DuPont’s deep content. DPS TRACC was then retrofitted to the 18 deployed sites, and initiated together with other DPS processes at additional sites, with Maydown in Northern Ireland becoming the first European site to begin with DPS TRACC.
To manage the deployment process, the GPMO introduced a short-cycle PDCA process. Sites report fortnightly (bi-weekly) progress against standard deployment timelines and metrics. Accomplishments are celebrated and opportunities identified that require GPMO assistance. Deployment champions and site-based experts provide feedback on the deployment process, which the GPMO considers for improvements, which are then standardised. Site deployments are prioritised and sequenced and a standard global deployment process is now being followed, with customisation of this process by exception. At site level, DPS experts, internal trainers, and master trainers support the implementation.
DPS TRACC Focus
The DPS TRACC programme focuses on the shop floor, with special emphasis placed on problem-solving and idea generation and visual management to produce performance dialogue. “The benefits of idea generation were powerfully illustrated at one of the European plants. Simple ideas were used to gain credibility and to show that we were listening to the people. This approach really keeps them involved. If one goes back to some of the earlier plants to ask what the difference is between then and now, the answer, ‛At last my voice is being heard!‘ is almost unanimous.”
Visual management and performance dialogues are also a core DPS TRACC focus. At every facility, visual boards provide a meeting place and a means of reviewing performance, prompting action, building teamwork and accelerating problem-solving. “It gives operators a place where they can communicate with each other across shifts and receive updates on different areas such as the production cycle and the performance of the site or unit.” Daily meetings in front of the visual boards allow team leaders and operators to review performance and address inefficiencies that could be as simple as changing a task that requires an unnecessarily long walk.
Team leaders are coached in the different types of dialogue they might have with operators, from an appreciative conversation to more difficult discussions in which participants have to dig deeper to find out why a system or process is not working as well as it could be. This approach also changes what is sometimes referred to as the ‛master-victim relationship’ and turns it into one focused on collaboration, coaching and teamwork. “You work on the premise that the person is not the problem, so it’s shifting the dialogue to a different place — one in which operators can take ownership of continuous improvement.” In this spirit, each site takes charge of its own DPS TRACC implementation. “DPS is giving more control to everyone in the organisation. It is less about rules and more about principles and boundaries.“
We’re not fond of standardisation, and now it had to be implemented across the business!
“Integrating TRACC with DPS has taught us valuable lessons,” Pfeiffer added. “Firstly, resist the urge to customise, particularly not until you fully understand the TRACC content. Only then can you channel that energy into upgrading or adapting the content. It is also crucial to establish realistic timelines for implementation and then being able to credibly capture and report gains. This is the ticket to support your resource requests. A strong governance process helps ensure best practices are leveraged, progress is tracked, and the production system is standardised. Finally, leadership involvement, including above-site involvement, is absolutely critical to successful deployments.”
|More About DuPont|
|DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential for a better, safer, and healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 90 countries, it offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture, nutrition, electronics, communications, safety and protection, home and construction, transportation, and apparel.|
|Having started the journey toward operational excellence through their DuPont Production System (DPS), the organisation partnered with TRACC in January 2009 to enhance and expand the programme to all its sites.
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