The power of improvement

The power of improvement
October 23, 2019
Knauf Insulation Valeriu Popovici

Continuous Improvement (CI) is one of our three strategic pillars at Knauf Insulation along with safety and customer-centricity. Over the past 10 years, continuous improvement has had a significant positive impact at our plants. In 2018 we started rolling out the approach in non-manufacturing areas and there are now more than 50 improvement projects being implemented across Knauf Insulation. CI in non-manufacturing is led by Val Popovici, Group Project Management Office Lead.

Our goal is to build a high-performing culture in which every single employee is an active contributor to the company’s success.
Val Popovici, Group Project Management Office Lead

What is Continuous Improvement?

And why is it important? CI is a proven approach to improving business performance. Its core principle is the alignment, engagement and empowerment of all employees. This means that we want to teach our people to solve problems and bottlenecks in their processes without the intervention of expensive consultants or experts. The changes and improvement they make are more sustainable because they made them themselves. CI helps our people make their work better and easier. We believe predictable processes – without fire-fighting – means work is more rewarding and results more predictable.

How are pain-points being resolved?

CI is a partnership. Our people have a wealth of knowledge about our company’s processes and we want to tap into their ideas and expertise. Meanwhile, at the Project Management Office we support colleagues by bringing an external perspective – providing the tools, people, knowledge or best practices to help resolve issues and coach them along the way. We aim to achieve a self-organising culture that says, ‘We have identified a problem, what can we do to solve it?’ One way of achieving this culture is by introducing the so-called ‘daily management’ process whereby teams examine their performance measures, identify pain-points in the process and explore quick solutions and come to an action plan to solve them.

How widespread is CI at our non-manufacturing sites?

All Knauf Insulation regions and our HQ have embarked on the CI journey. Today we have dozens of improvement projects that are completed or ongoing. We started rolling out CI in areas where there were the biggest opportunities for improvement. These are usually at a pivot point or grey zone between different departments or processes. For example, we launched CI last year in various local customer services – an intersection between customers, sales, manufacturing, logistics and finance.
By implementing improvements there we uncovered further opportunities upstream and downstream which helped us pursue additional improvements and bring other departments to the table.



To what extent have the pilots been a success?

If we look at individual process performance indicators and above all our employees’ satisfaction, we are seeing a positive trend in every improvement project and this is a testimony to the hard work of everyone involved. People have put in a lot of time and effort on top of their working day, but now they are reaping the benefits. People are feeling more empowered and in control of their work rather than feeling under pressure and constantly fire-fighting.

Can you give examples?

We have dramatically reduced the time it takes to create SKUs (stock keeping units) and we are implementing technology to get even better results. Another example has been the performance improvements around order intake and processing at customer service points across Knauf Insulation – from UK to France to Germany to Russia. Knauf Insulation employees are really seeing the benefits and are looking for the next improvements. That is a great sign that we are doing something right.

How has CI impacted our customers?

Levels of satisfaction have improved and so has customer feedback. CI helps customers do business with us more easily and efficiently. We are becoming more customer-centric, with external and internal customers. We teach our colleagues to think about “what is critical to our customers” and “how will they measure what we do”.

How will our CI success be scaled up?

CI has been incredibly successful in our plants and we want to replicate this success in non-manufacturing areas. We have more than 2,000 people involved in these areas at Knauf Insulation EMEA and APAC and we have trained and coached more than 200 people to date on CI. Our goal is to build a high-performing culture in which every single employee is an active contributor to the company’s success. This means a culture where everyone, in every part of our organisation works on improving our company every day. This is a culture based on behaviour driven by a shared understanding and alignment to our company’s values and goals. CI is a never-ending journey and we excited to have embarked on it!



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