Leader of Continuous Improvement, Heinz Europe

Heinz Europe

Executive Summary
The Heinz Global Performance System (HGPS) — using TRACC — was rolled out at the first European pilot sites with some early wins. Some sites or pilots in sites are performing at 2.5 in the Foundation TRACCs, having lifted their performance from below 1.5. One site in Poland, Heinz Pudliszki, recently reached Stage 3. Said John de Poot, former Leader of CI, Heinz EU, ”For me it is about getting the right focus. The HGPS programme has become the key to our basic operating model.”


A Culture of Continuous Improvement
No stranger to Continuous Improvement (CI) initiatives, various Heinz sites and regions were already implementing their own site-based World Class Operations (WCO) or Six Sigma programmes. An analysis of their CI activities on a global level, which took into account the benefits, strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches, brought Heinz to the conclusion that much progress had been made in a number of regions and sites. However, this analysis also uncovered various challenges, including the fact that there was a high disconnect between activities from one site to the next: sites, though seeing results from their efforts, were implementing different CI approaches with varying results.Heinz Europe

In many instances, improvement efforts were very much dependent on the focus of local senior management, as well as the knowledge and experience of local specialists, such as CI managers. In other words, the results of CI across the group were in the hands of a small group of people.

For the most part, CI initiatives were viewed as project-driven activities led by these specialists, as opposed to being process-driven and embedded into the very fibre of the entire organisation.

These challenges meant that although quick wins were being seen in isolated pockets across the organisation, there was insufficient sustainability of results and a change in ways of working. Additionally, the current methods of improvement risked duplication of CI effort as each site tried to recreate improvements based on their specific improvement needs only, with no full view of what needed to change on an organisation-wide level. This resulted in a ‘fire-fighting’ approach which would not ultimately change behaviour.

There was a high disconnect between activities from one site to the next: sites, though seeing results from their efforts, were implementing different CI approaches with varying results.

Heinz needed a way to standardise improvement initiatives and focus on sustainability. They developed a framework for their own staged approach to improvement, which would incorporate wherever possible, the good elements out of the different programmes. Through this development, it became clear that Heinz needed an external partner who could deliver the needed structure, programme, assessment tools, know-how, knowledge sharing and experience to assist Heinz across multiple global operations in many languages. After an intensive partner selection process, TRACC was selected because Heinz felt that TRACC’s offering was well aligned with its framework design, its vision for people, systems and process improvement, and the overall delivery methods of the programme.

The programme should first drive performance improvement in all factories and should be able to be expanded to all areas of the supply chain (planning, procurement, distribution). Focus should be on really improving the performance of the processes.

High-level performance improvement goals for manufacturing at Heinz include:

  • Safety: improve on and realise a safe working environment
  • Quality: drive for highest quality and reduce losses
  • Delivery: ensure the required service level to the customer
  • People: develop, empower and engage all employees
  • Productivity: continuously deliver the highest productivity levels
  • Improving ways of working
  • Standardisation of business processes
  • Global knowledge sharing of improvement efforts

HGPSMore about HGPS
Heinz’s Global Performance System (HGPS), using the TRACC framework, was rolled out at the first European pilot sites, kicking off with the Leading and Managing Change Foundation TRACC, and then the remaining Foundations TRACCs in Stage 2. A year into the initial implementation they were implementing Pillar TRACCs in these sites, Asset Care being the first. Quality is a major focus in the food business and this TRACC has been implemented and aligned with the Heinz Quality programmes to ensure the company continues to deliver high quality. Currently, Heinz is also aligning the Environment Health and Safety TRACC (EHS TRACC) with the Heinz Global Safety Programme.

At the time of this interview, HGPS (using the TRACC framework) had been rolled out at 12 of the 20 European sites, namely Elst (Netherlands), Kitt Green and Telford (UK), Latina and Ozzano Taro (Italy), Alfaro (Spain), Dundalk (Ireland), Turnhout (Belgium), Pudliszki (Poland), Otradnoe and Georgievsk (Russia), and Seesen (Germany).Heinz Tomato Ketchup

The sites follow every TRACC Stop ‘n Think and Implementation Action depending on the performance gaps identified in the assessment. Heinz has established best practice teams for every TRACC to agree and set standards for each best practice and to encourage shared learning.

Says John regarding the implementation, ”The emphasis is on involving and getting senior management commitment because they hold the key to change. Furthermore, it is very important to have good, well-qualified trainers to develop skills and coach people in the change process. It requires quite a large investment in people development, but quality training is critical to the success of the programme.”

Heinz EU is Enjoying Much Success
Owing to this cross-country, cross-cultural implementation, TRACC has been rolled out across Heinz Europe in seven languages: English, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian and German. Says John, ”Multi-language roll-out has the big advantage that we really are all talking the same ’language’ and have shared meaning. It is much easier to involve local people in their own language and it also gives them the confirmation that we value engagement with everyone. It shows that the company is committed to make HGPS work. It eases the discussions and sharing between the different sites in the countries and assures me that we are consistent across all our EU operations.”

Some sites or pilots in sites are performing at 2.5 in the Foundation TRACCs, having lifted their performance from below 1.5 on TRACC’s five-staged world class maturity assessment scale. Heinz is in it for the long haul, and realises that it will take a few years to really become world class across all its operations and more importantly, build sustainable improvement.

We learn continuously. HGPS is a true global initiative that connects people in their own language to a common way of working, drives standardisation of best practices, and helps people learn from each other.

John tells us that a number of sites are seeing clear improvements in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and yield, and enjoy a much more involved and focused workforce. Operations are improving on loss analysis and getting more focused on priority setting and the execution of improvements. Teams and managerial structures have been re-organised to better accommodate the changes. Says John, “For me it is about getting the right focus. The HGPS programme has become the key to our basic operating model.”

HGPS has delivered numerous comparable improvements in most of their sites, including gaining a more detailed understanding of structures, change of teams, improved quality and safety, better performance management to name a few. Some initial wins were published in various issues of HGPS Impact over the past year:

  • Kitt Green’s (UK) Pasta Operations Area, through their initial loss and waste analysis, identified 5% available run time was being lost, which they have now rectified. Other significant benefits include improving knowledge among the team, implementing a common way of operating shifts and developing the essential parameters to sustain performance. The Can-making department’s OEE results saw steady improvements: 52% in the first quarter, 55% in the second quarter, 58% in the third quarter and 59% in the fourth quarter.
  • HGPS Impact reports at the time, ”More than 200 floor staff in Otradnoe (Russia) were trained in WCO, Teamwork, 5S, and Visual Management as part of Training of Trainers Wave 6 training. The response from participants was overwhelmingly positive, many of whom cited how impressed they were with the trainers’ enthusiasm and dedication to HGPS.”
  • This level of training success (given by Heinz’s own TRACC trained internal trainers) was also enjoyed in their Dutch, Polish, Italian, UK and Ireland sites.
  • The HGPS encourages best practice sharing between sites, and excellent examples of this have been seen, such as a workshop hosted in the UK, where all CI managers from all EU regions met to discuss quick wins and shared learning. These multi-day workshops have become the norm, and are hosted once or twice annually. Additionally, best practice teams (comprising representatives from sites across Europe) work together frequently.

Furthermore, says Inaki Balduz, site manager of the Alfaro site in Spain, ”With HGPS implementation we learned that there are some key elements to ensure a successful change story but maybe the most important is to have a real reason to do things differently and to share it with a committed team of people willing to make real this change. HGPS is the framework for our cultural change at Alfaro, a catalyst to transform the way that we manage our operations and our people.” He continues, ”Thanks to HGPS we have a much more structured and standardised process to run our business on a daily basis.”

According to Stuart Lawson, site manager of the Dundalk, Ireland site, ”HGPS is just the right thing to do in my opinion. It’s truly challenging our CI culture which, had you asked me prior to HGPS, I would have said was fine and I would have been wrong. Investing time in developing your team and leaders brings reward, but don’t be afraid to stop and think, have the patience to go with the flow, have faith in the system and don’t try to cut corners — it is not a race!”

Heinz EuropeIn conclusion John says: ”We learn continuously. HGPS is a true global initiative that connects people in their own language to a common way of working, drives standardisation of best practices, and helps people learn from each other. TRACC gives us a very good basis and structure, and has developed our capability to use our experience and expertise to contribute to the improvement of the system. We put a lot of emphasis on people engagement and allow people to voice their ideas. We do not enforce rigorous implementation; we encourage healthy discussions on the implementation of each Implementaion Action and allow people to contribute their ideas and take ownership of the process, to ensure they understand what it will really mean in their site. Implementation of HGPS (TRACC) is very demanding, but if you truly encourage participation and ownership, it ensures that no one sits back or operates at a slower pace. It encourages action and creativity, and this kind of energy is critical in the early stages to ensure sustained success.”

Company Background
As one of the world’s largest food manufacturers, Heinz is a US$10.6 billion global company, enjoying number one or two market share in over 50 countries across six continents. Founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1869 by Henry John Heinz, the company first became known for its ketchup, of which 650 million bottles are now sold every year. Many of HJ Heinz’s forward-thinking business ideals guide the organisation to this day.
One such guiding principle which is of great relevance today is how he encouraged every employee to eliminate waste of every kind, including material, time and opportunity … “All the money necessary for a useful purpose, but not a cent for waste.” This is very much in line with Lean thinking, demonstrating exactly how progressive HJ Heinz’s business ideals were.
Heinz’s Ketchup and Sauces, Meals and Snacks and Infant/Nutrition product lines are sold in most countries around the world. The company has a global staff complement of approximately 35 000. Their EU region is made of 20 sites/offices, based in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland and Russia, and accounts for approximately a one-third share of the Heinz market.

This resource has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained herein without obtaining specific professional advice. Competitive Capabilities International (CCI) does not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this resource or for any decision based on it.

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