More process stability at BMA.

BMA’s Doreen Hennings has undergone training to improve our production processes, qualifying as a “Lean Six Sigma Green Belt”. This interview gives details of her qualification and of Doreen Hennings’ work.

Hi Doreen, could you briefly outline for us what the 6S method is?

Sure. The 6S method is a systematic approach for organising and standardising your own workplace and work environment in such a way that you can best focus on value-adding activities. This helps us eliminate waste altogether or reduce it to a minimum. At the same time, 6S has a very positive impact on work safety, in line with the equation safety = order + cleanliness. The “6S” refer to sort, set, shine, standardise, self-discipline & sustain, and safety.


And what does CIP mean?

CIP is short for continuous improvement processes. I work as a CIP Manager at BMA.


How long has BMA been using the 6S method?

We have been consistently relying on the 6S method in various areas of production since early 2019. The important thing is to raise awareness of the 6S method among all employees.


What are the next goals?

Next, we want to look at another part of tank construction. That project is headed by Can Ateser from Prefabrication. We take on board and evaluate ideas and suggestions made by members of the Prefabrication team. And Robert Bessel, our HSE (health, safety and environment) Manager, has to be there right from the start, to make sure that work safety and ergonomics are also taken into account.


Can’t everybody just organise their work as they like?

No, it’s not quite as simple as that. As an employer, BMA has a duty of care towards its employees. That means every workplace has to undergo a hazard assessment and certain safety regulations have to be met.


How did you get your current job?

About two years ago, my parental leave was over and I felt that it was time for a change. Dr Beer and I together had a look at the options available, and I was then offered the position of CIP Manager in Production. Before taking parental leave, I’d headed the Complaints department. That often involved assessing complaints, both from a technical and a process-oriented perspective. My ambition is to improve work and processes, and in a way it is also what drives me. So I thought: the job of CIP Manager sounds just right for me.


… so then you went on a training course?

Yes, it was the main reason for taking this “Lean Six Sigma Green Belt” training course. It took several weeks and ended with a practical assignment. Once I’d passed the assignment, I was awarded the certificate. It was all about using figures, data, facts and mostly statistical tools to analyse and resolve problems. The basic principle is that decisions have to be made based on the available data. You can’t just trust your gut feelings.


Tell us about your practical assignment.

Well, I had to find a project topic. When I moved into Production, I was put in charge of the project for upgrade of the final centrifugal assembly. That seemed to be a good topic for my practical assignment. Its title: “How to keep the throughput time for final centrifugal assembly to four days”. In my assignment, I focused on analysing interruptions and identifying potential areas of improvement.


What challenges are there in that area?

In companies such as BMA, some things “have always been done like that”, and I would ask why. An example: if, at the end of production, you find that you always have to recut the thread on a component, I would address that. In discussions with the team, I would scrutinise the entire process to find and eliminate the error source – that’s the big challenge!


What do your discussions with the team involve?

Every morning after our shop floor round, I’ll say hello to the colleagues in Final Assembly and ask them about the latest interruptions in the daily assembly routine. We talk about possible causes and solutions. Often, we’ll also consult upstream or downstream departments. The aim is to supply only components that can be used immediately, without any reworking. And I’d like to make one thing clear: all of us have to work together for better processes and products. All teams and managers have to do their bit to improve the working situation. There is great potential for CIP throughout production.


Have there been any concrete improvements?

There have been many small improvement steps and not all of them are visible to an outsider. Here’s an example: with the centrifugal basket lying on its side, one colleague would have to climb inside to fit the discharge valve. And he’d always slide around on the screen, which was already installed – so it was also a work safety issue. This is what we did: I had a meeting with this colleague and the shift manager responsible. We had a quick brainstorming session and came up with a solution. So now, clamping strips are fitted to hold the screen in place during assembly. The beauty of it is that we’ve not just made a production step simpler, we’ve also done something to improve work safety. And it took very little to implement the solution!


Many thanks for the interview, Doreen.