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Interesting project report on a business excellence programme at a mechanical and plant engineering company in south-western Germany

on .

Topics addressed, supported, and implemented within the business excellence programme include:

  • introduce SCRUM, an agile project management method to mechanical and electrical design, hardware and software development, and commissioning
  • improve management, core, and support processes with new process modelling
  • continuous reporting on project status and progress based on project, topical, and process audits
  • introduce multi-project management in pilot projects
  • introduce the design-to-cost methodology

In order to gain more detailed findings of the individual focus areas, these topics are briefly presented below:

Introduction of SCRUM

Increasing numbers of projects, more complex tasks, shorter development times - handle mechanical engineering projects on schedule and cost-effectively with agile methods. How do you stir up a team spirit? How can obstacles be eliminated as soon as possible and correctly escalated? When can a project be realistically completed? These are questions for which the agile project management method SCRUM provides answers.

Today's product life cycle is shorter than ever before. The challenge for companies in mechanical and plant engineering is, therefore, to develop machines for manufacture, assembly and testing in parallel with the product - a task that we have implemented with the IMIG in medium-sized engineering companies using the agile method SCRUM, so that milestones are achieved on schedule and cost-effectively. The proper use of SCRUM therefore provides the following benefits:

  • increased adherence to schedules and transparency
  • faster detection of deviations (verifiability)
  • faster recognition of issues that can result in claims
  • rapid introduction of measures and regular sustainability testing
  • separation of insufficiently clarified and workable content
  • Earlier risk minimisation

Improving company, management, and support processes with new process modelling

Given the increasing prevalence of integrated management systems, there is no longer any way to escape addressing business processes as the starting point for management systems. A 4-step procedure has proven its worth:

  1. Identity business processes and classify them into management, core, and support processes
  2. Present the sequence, define responsibilities, and how they mutually interact
  3. Control the processes
  4. Improve/regularly update processes

The distinction between management, core, and support processes serves only as a way to organise them more clearly and does not include a value judgement as to their importance or significance. Since this process model is the basis for all further work, it is important that it is understood and accepted by the company's management and employees and then put into practice on a daily basis. [1]

Continuous reporting on project status and progress based on project, topical, and process audits

Project audits are defined by ProjektMagazin as follows: "a 'project audit' is the review and evaluation of a project by a neutral authority based on the results achieved and the quality of its execution".

The procedure for subject and process audits is similar. However, the focus in these audits is not on the overall project and its progress, but on the processes accompanying the project. In order to ensure success, it is necessary to look at the projects and the functional organisation within the matrix. The audits help employees better understand and apply new topics.

Introduce multi-project management in pilot projects

Without actively controlling projects, certain potentials in companies are given away. Everything is begun ecstatically but is finished only half-heartedly. Employee motivation decreases as many employees develop negative attitudes in project management, e.g. "We never bother with meeting deadlines." The quality is also affected by high parallelism. Often this occurs in companies that are trying to manage a large number of projects simultaneously.

In principle, it is like a river that meets a bottleneck and where the flanks have to withstand high pressure. With the active control of all existing projects in the company, the river can manage the river through the bottleneck. With clearly structured reports and clear parameters, the company can be evenly distributed, keeping employee motivation constant, utilising synergies and using resources efficiently.

The challenge for the medium-sized machine manufacturers is now to work on the projects to be processed in such a way that the pressure on the bottlenecks is as even and consistent as possible.

Introduce the design-to-cost methodology

Material selection, production process, number of production steps, assembly complexity, maintenance possibilities and many other factors determine the manufacturing costs of a product. You can influence each of these factors in the development of a product. With the design-to-cost method, you can determine the precise production costs and thus be successful in the market.

The product life cycle starts with the concept and development of the product. The costs of the product later in the production stage are already determined at this point. The further on in the product lifecycle, the less influence there is over the costs for a product. Therefore, setting the goals for production costs at the beginning of the development process is unavoidable. To apply design-to-cost, you need to know the target price of your product. The first step is to identify the target price with which the newly developed product can find a market.

If you have more information, content or interesting projects in the pipeline on these or other related topics, please do not hesitate to contact us.



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