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Industrial performance: new paths to excellence

José Gramdi, founder of consulting firm Interaxys, has set out to bring management methods into the era of digital technology and collaborative working. To do so, he has developed a new approach to industrial performance, based on a more all-encompassing vision and continuous improvement methods. He explains how it works.

 

With Interaxys, you pledge to provide a new approach to industrial performance.What are its defining features?

We take a different route to the traditional silo approach, which assigns performance targets to the various company functions: marketing, sales, purchasing, production, etc. We believe organisations should instead be taking a collective approach and synchronising efforts across the company. Instead of setting myriads of individual objectives, we suggest our clients adopt an overall performance model, which we call the OIP, for Overall Interactional Performance. This indicator helps them align resources on a common company-wide objective.

 

How is this model constructed?

We are products of the school of systemic thinking. We look at how the different company functions interact. That may seem quite conceptual, but in fact it’s very down-to-earth. Our approach can help each employee see that their individual decisions have an impact on the overall performance. We provide a dynamic model of the company in which each person can identify their contribution to the whole and see the outcome of their interactions with their colleagues. And that changes everything!

 

In practice, how do you help company managers manage their business more effectively?

Based on this model of the company, we start by defining the best business strategy for the company. By this I mean the sales mix that will let it maximise the gross operating income, based on its resources and consumption of the various flows… This is another departure from the usual paradigm, which only looks at the margin on each product. Once the commercial optimum has been attained, we can finally enter a continuous improvement loop, using the various recognised methods: the Theory of Constraints, Lean Management or Six Sigma. In other words, we identify, in real time, what is preventing the company from achieving a higher level of performance.

 

How can this approach be applied in the field of energy efficiency?

Bringing in a continuous improvement approach such as ISO 50001 helps save on energy use in the factories. It requires the company to set up an efficient Energy Information System (EIS) to collect and analyse data from almost every area of the company (production, maintenance, management, purchasing, quality, etc.) and its ecosystem (customers, suppliers, weather conditions, energy and raw materials marketplaces, etc.). Entering all of this information into a single database then processing it with Big Data tools will provide the insights necessary to create the model. In other words, it will provide visibility into the flows, and the means to study process variability and find ways to improve it.

For example, modelling the thermal power required in a district heating network over the next 10 days will help me decide whether to turn on one boiler or two, based on the network’s hot water requirements, and schedule certain maintenance actions that I couldn’t undertake without this visibility. This predictive modelling of energy requirements and the company’s capacity helps me make the right decisions and achieve better performance.

 

Can you give us an example of one of your assignments, to gauge the benefits of this approach?

Let’s take the example of the latest industrial assignment we worked on. It was a “lucky” customer’s problem: this industrial company had potentially more customers than it could cater for. The managers didn’t know which customer to give the priority to, and the cost-based approach failed to yield satisfactory results for solving the problem. Applying our model, which entailed completely dissecting the flows, the resources they used and the added value they generated, naturally prompted the sales people to shift the focus of their objectives and we obtained spectacular results. The gross operating income increased threefold in a year! And that was even before they launched the continuous improvement projects.

 

About José Gramdi (CEO, Interaxys)

After graduating as a robotics engineer, José Gramdi worked as an industrial IT consultant for 15 years before joining the Université de technologie de Troyes in 2002 as a research teacher. In 2013, he published “La Boucle Vertueuse de l’Excellence” (“The Virtuous Loop to Excellence”), in which he explains the workings of his overall performance approach. In 2014, he founded the consulting firm Interaxys with three partners.

 

   |   A tip from Blu.e

> What is the best way to introduce these new methods in my company?

I would suggest you to start by applying them to a concrete, well-defined problem, with immediate results, before applying them to the organisation’s overall performance. Energy is a good place to start. It’s an issue that affects every company function and it can generate instant, tangible results. Energy is often the best pretext for creating a single database containing the data for all of the company’s functions (operations, purchasing, maintenance, quality, etc.). This is the first step towards bringing down the silos. Energy is a springboard to the organisation’s operational excellence. Our blu.e pilot® platform provides all of the software applications, systemic collaborative methods and line-of-business expertise necessary to improve industrial facilities’ energy performance.

 

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