Ensure that processes run like a roller coaster

Published on by Component Manufacturing

Dave van ‘t Hull (43) has been a Logistics Engineer at NTS Hermus in Venray for a year now. His main assignment: to ensure that processes at Hermus run like a roller coaster. In practice this means: arranging logistics parameters as efficiently as possible so that an optimum flow is created. This is done by working closely together with customers on a strategic basis and reasoning from a customer’s perspective in the entire company. Dave notices that the new way of working is effective. On the one hand there is room for new activities and on the other hand he gets compliments from customers.

"Normally when you are in my position you reason from an operational point of view," Dave says. “But I look at all processes from a sales and customers perspective. In this organisation my job is also positioned within the Sales department. That is very unusual for this kind of position. In practice this means that I monitor the customers very closely and follow them intensively. You have to have a feel for what they are dealing with and how their market develops in order to properly organize your own production process.”

Implementation of Heijunka to create an optimal flow

"We have about ten large customers here at NTS Hermus. It is very important to monitor them closely so that you know what is going on with them. In order to make this new way of working a success, we have implemented a new meeting structure and ‘Heijunka’. Heijunka is a Japanese lean method used to level production. It ensures that, even with a variable customer demand, there is an even inflow of production work. In this way there is always one consistent pace and people do not get overworked."

Markets are dynamic, you have to understand that

“NTS Hermus used to work in a different way. The operation received an enormous amount of data and worked with that data without seeing the bigger picture or knowing the context. In practice, however, the demand for our customers' products fluctuates. It goes up and down and you have to anticipate on these fluctuations with your production. The markets in which our customers operate are dynamic, you have to understand that. The world is changing around us and we have to go along with it."

Entire organisation needs to have insight in customer’s process

“Therefore, we have also invested in offering all departments involved more insight into the customer’s processes. My colleague Elsbeth de Jong, who is a Customer Service Officer, has an important role in this. Among other things, she ensures that our colleagues get to know the customer and the product on which they work better. For example, she ensured that our colleagues in the operation received an online demonstration of StyleShoots, a product they are working on. Something that raises awareness and leads to a better understanding."


Copyright photography: Styleshoots. On the picture, you can see the product 'Vertical' which is used to photograph clothes and mannequins for a.o. Zalando.

Implementing an improvement culture requires perseverance

“In practice you notice that it is not always easy for people to work in a different manner. It is very tempting to go back to familiar patterns. We always have an excuse to do something in a certain way. But if we keep doing what we have always done, we will always get what we got. Thanks to our new way of working, we address each other more directly without blaming each other. This is how you create a culture of improvement."

Craftsmanship and creativity distinguish NTS Hermus

“I have been working on this transformation for a year now and I notice the difference. We receive very positive responses from our customers. NTS Hermus is basically a unique company that is characterized by craftsmanship and creativity. What we are really good at is making complex plate parts. Cover parts of machines that are both functional as aesthetically attractive. That is important for the customer."

Heijunka bears fruit

“Both the customers as our colleagues notice that Heijunka has been properly implemented. We deal with considerably less disruptions. Previously it was a stop-start process. Now we look much further ahead. This requires close strategic cooperation. Product Life Cycle Management is key. That is getting better and better. Something that we have to take into account though is that we do maintain some flexibility for unexpected requests in our streamlined roller coaster."

High CLIP = high reliability

“Reliability is an important indicator. We call this performance indicator: Confirmed Line Item Performance (CLIP). We recently had a 100% CLIP. Something we celebrated. To a customer, that 100% CLIP simply means that you are very reliable. We, for example, have a customer that barely has any stock itself. There we deliver in line. In practice this means we can only deliver a day before or after the agreed date. The customer in question wants to focus purely on R&D and not on something like the manufacturability of plate parts. They are happy to leave that to the manufacturing companies."

Satisfied customers and puzzling with numbers give me energy

“In my role I have a lot of contact with our account managers and the customer: about stocks, in order to know what is going on with them, what the market expectations are and more. I also get energy from customers that are satisfied. In addition, Besides, I of course also find it wonderful to puzzle with numbers. You have to be a bit of a control freak to like this. I for instance know all the code numbers of all our customers by heart.”

Direct involvement and responsibility for results

“I also enjoy working for an SMEs like NTS. For year, I have worked for OEMs such as Thermo Fisher Scientific and Philips. That is also nice and challenging, but very different. What you do here is much more tangible, you are directly involved and directly responsible. Every euro counts in this environment. I get a lot of energy out of that.”

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