How we work
We have been on a rapid journey of improvement since 2015. Not only did we move our entire factory from Orpington to our new location in Dartford, we also reorganised the whole of manufacturing processes into value streams, and introduced one piece flow instead of batch production.
What is a value stream?
A value stream at SEM can be defined as the sequence of actions required to design, produce, and supply our product to our customers, and along which information, materials, and value flows. We have two value streams, splitting our product simply by size, into the large motors and the small, each of which is overseen by a Value Stream Manager. The benefits of working in a value stream structure are that you have complete ownership of a product type from start to finish, increased visibility of bottlenecks or waste in the process and you have much better control of quality issues. Another benefit of moving to the value streams is that we saw a reduction in our cycle times from two weeks to two days. The value stream is broken up in to what we call ‘cells’ which are teams of between three and five operators, who within that area possess all the skills and capabilities to produce one item or part of the motor.
What is one piece flow?
We moved from batch to one piece flow production during our relocation in 2015. in essence, batch production involves one operator doing one operation on a trolley of product and then passing it to the next stage. In one piece flow, each operator has a standard work or a few processes to follow and then passes this to the next operator. Within the cell set up as described above, the standard work for each operator takes approximately the same length of time, ensuring that the cell as a whole is balanced and there is minimal work in progress. The main benefit of this way of working is that the quality of product is improved, as any issues can be picked up on the first product and are limited to one item and not a whole batch.
How do we measure our success?
We use a system of Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, in order to drive our performance at SEM. This includes measures for Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost and People. By structuring all our meetings around these key areas, we stay focussed on our overall goal of supplying world class motors on time to our customers.