Apr . 2024 .

Unlocking agile operational efficiency: navigating challenges and reaping rewards

The landscape of operational challenges can transcend mere metrics and undergo transformative changes by adopting Agile methodologies.

Henrique Melillo

Unlocking agile operational efficiency: navigating challenges and reaping rewards

In today’s fast-paced industrial landscape, the demand for instant results is unyielding. However, organizations frequently encounter a lot of obstacles that impede their pursuit of efficiency. These range from high turnover rates, resulting in an inexperienced workforce, to regular machine downtimes.  

Routine management practices stumble, especially during pivotal moments like shift handovers, further exacerbating the situation. Confidence decreases, work-life balance deteriorates, and the absence of visual management and consistent daily routines adds to the complexity. Amid this chaos, organizations struggle with poor throughput, unable to meet production demands due to capacity constraints.  

It’s a challenging terrain that necessitates innovative solutions. Embracing Agile initiatives promises tangible outcomes that reverberate throughout the organization. Expectations range from significant improvements in Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)—20% to 50%—to noticeable reductions in Mean Time to Repair (MTTR)—30% to 40%—within prioritized areas, typically achieved within 6-8 weeks.

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Beyond mere metrics, Agile methodologies foster a culture of continuous improvement, paving the way for transformative change. Streamlined shift handovers, decision-making supported by visual management, and proactive enhancements to routines mark the journey towards operational excellence. 

Balancing agility with sustainability in companies  

Striking a balance between the pursuit of rapid results and lasting efficiency is crucial. Agile initiatives provide a dual approach: the immediate impact of “Just Do It” endeavors and the depth of analysis inherent in Kaizen methodologies.  

While the former addresses issues directly with swift solutions, the latter delves deeper, utilizing cross-functional teams to dissect problems at their root. The establishment of new capabilities furnishes the team with the necessary tools and practices, setting the foundation for sustainability. 

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This transformation not only facilitates immediate improvements but also fosters an environment conducive to growth and resilience. By achieving this balance, organizations pivot away from short-term fixes, propelling towards sustainable operational health. Some steps can be highlighted to guide the Agile operational efficiency path. 

How to achieve operational efficiency? 

The path to Agile operational efficiency is multifaceted, necessitating meticulous Agile planning and implementation, and unwavering commitment. Organizations embark on a structured journey:  

Weeks 1-2: Understanding the Terrain: Conduct thorough pre-work, assess historical data, prioritize equipment and/or bottlenecks, and lay the groundwork.  

Weeks 1-2: Setting the Foundation: Develop a comprehensive initial assessment and routine implementation plan. This includes conducting a Day in the Life of Supervisors and Technical Leaders (DILO), assessing the maturity of operations and management routines, and evaluating Basic Leader Standard Work (LSW) adherence.  

Weeks 2-4: Pursuing Quick Wins: Organizations seize quick wins through mini-Kaizen initiatives, identifying and improving immediate opportunities such as missing visual markers, optimizing end-of-shift operations, and adjusting critical tasks. Technical dependencies are identified, paving the way for subsequent Technical Kaizen.  

Weeks 3-6: Delving into Technical Solutions: This involves capturing and implementing technical opportunities through on-site investigations, prioritization, interviews with operators, SOPs, WIs, OPLs, troubleshooting guides, and Operator care round documentation. Solutions that require Subject Matter Expertise (SME) and Process Engineering (PE) support are deployed, with established auditing processes and performance monitoring tools ensuring sustained effectiveness.  

Weeks 6-8: Handing Over the Baton: Agile initiatives reach fruition, marking the transition to improved practices. A plant-wide sign-off acknowledges progress, implementation plans for remaining topics are outlined, and roles and responsibilities are defined for sustained practices. Continuous evaluation and auditing ensure adherence to improved practices, solidifying enduring efficiency. 

Agile operational excellence and knowledge goals 

Success hinges not only on adoption but also on steadfast leadership, disciplined execution, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge transfer. Organizations must prioritize these factors to realize enduring effectiveness. Incorporating generated knowledge into training and onboarding processes strengthens the foundation for Agile operational excellence.

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The newly established capabilities not only facilitate knowledge creation and sharing but also pave the way for a series of innovative solutions for operations. For instance, the implementation of Operational Gen AI enables the internalization of all knowledge within a digital environment, fostering operational efficiency. This transformative approach not only enhances current practices but also lays the foundation for continuous improvement and adaptation.  

In conclusion, as industry evolves, embracing agility becomes not just a necessity but a hallmark of success. By navigating challenges, implementing strategies, and reaping rewards, organizations unlock the full potential of Agile methodologies within their operations. Agile operational efficiency isn’t just a goal—it’s a reality shaped by commitment and innovation. 

Henrique Melillo

11+ years of global experience

Expertise: Financial and Operational Efficiency in industries such as construction, telecommunications infrastructure, public health, financial, and food & beverage.

Education: BBA & Finance at Insper, Specialist in Operation Management from the Wharton School of Business and Strategy Execution from Erasmus University Rotterdam

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