Future factories: Planes, Trains & Automobiles

February 19, 2016 11:13 am
View Article

An excellent article I recently read in the Harvard Business Review suggested we do not innovate. This is because we have formalised what we are looking at into what it is, rather than what it could be!

Consider if passengers on the Titanic had viewed the iceberg as a floating platform nearly 400ft wide very close to the wreckage and had ferried survivors to the iceberg, instead of just filling the lifeboats. How many more passengers might then have survived?

What relevance does this have to the food industry? What is the equivalent to the iceberg?

Product travelling on ships can take weeks to arrive at its destination, resulting in weeks lost in shelf-life, and time spent where the product adds no value. Manufacturing space is also paid for. What if part of the manufacturing process could take place on-board, for example sorting and bagging operations for fruit and vegetables…

What if milk were to arrive straight from the farm to the port and was loaded into silos on-board and then processed on route from Australia to China. Additional days of shelf life would be significant, whether bottled on board or on arrival.

Grain is collected from across the country and transported to mills for processing, but what would happen if all or some of this process began on-board the train? Suddenly a mill is not constrained to a fixed location, and now we only need to worry about the final kilometres for delivery.

In both of the above examples, the capital costs would likely be higher, but we have just eliminated a major element in the production and logistics costs, alongside the requirement for land to house the static manufacturing operation.

Cement transportation has the ability to mix product as it travels to a construction site, an ingenious time-saving invention. What if product could be pasteurised, flavours mixed, defrosted, rehydrated or even cooked whilst on the road?

Sticking with dairy products, imagine that milk is processed from the cows on the truck, and rather than being bottled it was delivered straight to the supermarket into a refillable silo, with the customer using their own container/bottle which they then pay for by volume.

Technological advances may be needed to support these innovations and someone must be willing to stage an overhaul in manufacturing to see concepts such as these evolve. But whilst we continue to only see the iceberg as an obstruction we may never even consider what might be possible!

We are thinking disruptively about our favourite food essentials because until something big happens we will continue to pay the price for inefficient supply chains.

 

Written by Paul Eastwood, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd

Idea generation and what makes a project a project? Project Management 101 pt. 1

February 19, 2016 9:13 am
View Article

In the first of this series detailing the key items to be addressed to deliver your Operational and Business Projects on time and to budget, the focus here will be on idea generation and understanding which ideas are projects.

Many businesses have long, outdated project lists and really the first step in building a successful Project Management Office is ensuring the right projects are on that list.

Idea generation

The Cambridge Dictionary Online defines an idea as:

“A suggestion or plan for doing something”

Some ideas may be barely formed suggestions and others may be fully-fledged plans. Ideas come from every channel of the business: daily operations meetings, high level strategy reviews and the shop floor.  Each idea can have very different objectives, including safety, quality, and productivity, strategic or cost reductions.  Some will be simple, and others very complex.

Which ideas are projects?

With this list of ideas, we begin to think about how best to deliver each one:

  • Should we be delivering this as part of our normal day-to-day business?
  • Do we need to do something different to enable this idea to be delivered?

We then need to understand what this ‘something different’ is.

The Cambridge Dictionary Online defines a project as:

“A piece of planned work or an activity that is finished over a period of time and intended to achieve a particular purpose”.

To take this literally, we could apply it to all additional work in our day-to-day roles which we plan to undertake. Calling day-to-day tasks projects can potentially slow progress, causing something which might ordinarily take a week take four instead – timing. Similarly, describing a project as a business as usual task can cause unnecessary strain on our resources, and cause the task to fail – resourcing.

We need some guidelines that can define whether a task should be completed as ‘business as usual’ or whether we need to use a project framework to progress.  At Coriolis we have developed a simple matrix that is changeable for all of our different client’s needs exploring the priority level of the task, the complexity, the number of people or departments that need to be involved, the timing and the potential spend required.

With these guiding principles we can define a project or a day-to-day task which enables us to progress towards the final goal.

Now we know which projects we want to move forward with, we need to decide how to prioritise these projects, which will be covered in the next blog in the series.

Sources: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/project

 

Written by Sally Wood, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd

Waste not, want not – reducing global food waste

February 9, 2016 2:35 pm
View Article

While recently skimming over an article by the BBC I was confronted by a picture of a stony-faced Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in discussion of the ‘War on Waste’ campaign. Hugh was standing amidst 20 tonnes of “just not good enough for Morrisons” parsnips, and showed it was clear that the levels of waste in the Food and Drinks industry from farm gate to mouth is a systemic issue.

Often floated and generally accepted is the statistic that 1/3 of all food globally produced is wasted. The numbers would look bleak on any balanced scorecard. The story worsens when coupled with statistics from the 2015 Global Hunger Index indicating the level of hunger in the world remains unacceptably high with 795 million people still going hungry, one in four children affected by stunting, and 9% of children affected by wasting. According to the Malthusian theory the issue can only get worse as unchecked exponential population growth will continue to demand more from the food and drinks industry.

There is clearly an opportunity for waste reduction across the whole supply chain. As consultants working within our clients borders, we are continually focused on driving the levels of operational waste to only a few percentage points and reducing the impact on the bottom line. However as yet there seems to be little collaboration with processes up and downstream. How often would a major supermarket work with the supplier in order to minimise waste by the consumer or household? Often the reverse is true, with competitive pressures making individual businesses reluctant to effect significant changes, or the financial penalty is not necessarily suffered where highest impacts to waste are effected. Typically, a small number of food retailers exercise market power over a very competitive large supplier base. To ensure suppliers are not “de-listed” over production is common practice, and where own brand products are created they cannot be resold thus are wasted.

FOOD WASTE – THE NUMBERS

In the UK a charity called WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) produced a report looking at strategies to reduce food waste. The report builds upon a paper written by the Food and Agriculture Organization on global food waste written in 2011, looking in detail at the global food chain to understand the impact and loss points across the whole supply chain.

Findings verify that roughly 1/3 (1.3 billion tonnes) of all food produced in the world becomes waste based on weight (FAO 2011). Significant differences occur between developing and industrialised countries in terms of where the majority of waste is produced along the supply chain. Developing countries produce the majority of waste at the beginning, namely in agriculture and post-harvest. The industrialised world produce more than 40% of food waste at retail and consumer levels.

UK Waste

The study (WRAP 2015) shows that in the UK, by sector, 46% of food and drink waste is attributed to the household while 29% is in food manufacturing and retail, and 6% is in hospitality and food services. The remaining 19% is attributed to pre-factory gate food waste.

Clearly the household is significantly contributing to the issue. It was found that 60% of household waste was considered avoidable, edible at some point prior to being thrown away. Of this, roughly half was due to “not being used in time”, while a third was overcooked, or too much was prepared or served. Whilst there is no financial incentive should manufacturers be more responsible with sell by dates? Do we design packaging such that we always have too much? Could we scrap packaging altogether and have the consumers fill by weight?

Interestingly the latter solution is being implemented by eco-conscious German consumers shopping at Original Unverpackt, a no packaging, zero waste grocery store in Berlin. Consumers purchase exactly how much they need from refillable containers and shelves are re-stocked using a bulk bin system for all products, including milk and shampoo. A similar initiative was implemented in 2014 in South America to combat food poverty.

What is more interesting to Coriolis and where we can have the biggest impact as Operations Consultants is in manufacturing and retail supply chain food waste. However, as previously mentioned working within the borders of a single supplier will not solve the problem. Collaboration between retailers, manufacturers and producers is needed to address the significant and complex interactions and to help distribute the benefits arising from waste reduction more evenly (e.g. producer vs retailer). But how can we drive this behaviour and invoke whole chain collaboration?

French government is close to enacting a law which will force French supermarkets with a retail space above 400sqm to donate food that is approaching its best-before date to charity or sent to be used as animal feed. Supermarkets must sign contracts with charities or face significant fines or two years in jail. Clearly this legislation will have a cost associated with waste disposal and may increase incentives for supermarkets to work with their suppliers on waste reduction initiatives.

Whilst collaboration between retailers and manufacturers is uncommon at present, as governments are lobbied to create new legislation, companies will need to focus outside of their own walls and work with the supply chain as a whole. The question for us is how do we position ourselves to take advantage of that when the opportunity arises?

References:

  1. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34647454
  2. http://www.theplaidzebra.com/zero-waste-grocery-store-no-packaging-plastic-big-name-brands/
  3. WRAP (2015) Strategies to achieve economic and environmental gains by reducing food waste (http://2014.newclimateeconomy.report/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/WRAP-NCE_Economic-environmental-gains-food-waste.pdf)
  4. FAO (2011) Global Food Losses and Food Waste (http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/mb060e/mb060e.pdf)

 

Written by Oliver North, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd

A Management Consultant’s Golden Rules

February 8, 2016 11:49 am
View Article

For many newcomers to the consulting world, making the leap can be a daunting prospect. The life of a consultant involves a lot of time spent on the road/in the air, sleeping in hotels and working long hours, not to mention turning around your client’s presumptions that consultants ‘always think they know everything…!’

My staff colleagues have decades of consulting experience and I recently asked them to share their tips and hints for new consultants.

Below are some ‘Golden Rules’ that we try to live by:

  • Know your numbers, as the facts speak louder than words. Keep a wider view and see where you can add value
  • Find at least 2 hours per week when you can think about your areas’ numbers and what really needs to be done
  • Area folders which include area plans, organograms, analysis details, schedules, area standards, skills matrix etc. are very useful. Keep them to hand at all times.
  • Take people through the journey of where you want to get to
  • Remain objective and maintain a questioning approach – don’t accept the “norm”
  • Don’t be afraid to escalate blockers or issues, it may be uncomfortable but it’s necessary
  • Remember 40% of a meeting is preparation and by being effective at this, the meeting time is limited and your points are clear and focused
  • Plan for next week on the Friday prior, and keep to your weekly objectives; measure yourself on your daily achievements
  • Build rapport, treat your clients like your colleagues. Have coffee together, making sure the only time you spend with the client is not in a meeting or booked appointment
  • Relationships with your colleagues are important; you are working away from your home, friends and family much of the time so make time for a bite to eat or a nightcap
  • Travel by train if you can, then you can catch up on work or take some time to prepare for arriving at the client site without the stress of traffic, delays etc.
  • Be proud of what you do and the things you achieve each day, week and month
  • Keep smiling, stay positive and enjoy the challenge

A career as a management consultant is challenging, exciting and most importantly, very rewarding. Hopefully these tips will put you in good stead for your future as a consultant.

 

Written by Amir Sadreddini with input from esteemed colleagues, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd

The advantages of a visual workplace

February 2, 2016 4:00 pm
View Article

Visual workplace

A visual workplace is a self-ordering, self-explanatory, self-regulating and self-improving work environment – that which is supposed to happen happens, on time, every time, 24/7.

Visual management is used to display and monitor the key performance measures that guide improvement. It allows teams to understand immediately how a process is performing, without the need to stop or leave the workplace. Team members are kept aware of current quality, cost and safety performance and can use their input to suggest improvements.

The use of a visual workplace builds a team ethos and generates ownership of tasks, ensuring everyone shares a common understanding and remains focused on the key areas. As decisions are made more effectively and communicated quickly, working time is also used to greater advantage. In addition, reviewing performance in this way makes it easier to track progress and thereby establish and embed a continuous improvement culture. The intention is that problems are solved at the lowest level rather than referred up. Many successful organisations use this as a key Lean tool to drive improvement and engagement.

Visual Thinking

A person or organisation who thinks visually is:

“One who recognizes motion and the information deficits that cause it, and in turn knows how to eliminate both through visual aids”

Motion is moving without working. It is the corporate enemy since when people are in motion they are away from the area in which they add value.

To start eliminating motion you need to ask two simple questions:

Question 1: “What do I need to know?”

What do I need to know that I do not know right now in order to do my work – or do it better? (Note: it is “I” not “we”)

Question 2: “What do I need to share?”

What do I know that others need to know in order for them to do their work – or do it better? (Note: it is still “I” driven)

Basing the visual tools and functions around these two questions creates a visual workplace which is effective and efficient.

 

Six Categories of Visual Function

Creating a Visual Workplace is not as simple as installing a few performance boards, there are six categories of Visual Function:

Visual workplace 3

Focus

Creating a fully functional visual workplace rarely works first time. It is a combination of Methodology and Inventiveness.

Focus on one area initially to install visual systems and make an “area of excellence” for the rest of the organisation to follow using the two questions stated at the start and the six visual categories. The success of the pilot will dictate the success of the whole programme so make sure you get it right before you move on, and involve someone you know has succeeded with it before.

Good luck!

 

Written by Amir Sadreddini, Coriolis Consulting Pty Ltd