Journey Towards World Class Operations
Case study: Synseal Group
Founded in 1980, Synseal Group is the UK’s fastest growing and most dynamic window and conservatory systems manufacturer. Synseal remains fully independent and is owned by the people that run the company on a day-to-day basis following a successful MBO in February 2010. The management team drives Synseal’s commitment to provide the best products at competitive prices by continually investing in and enhancing the wide product range to deliver the most innovative and efficient product solutions which add real value to customers’ businesses.
Synseal has grown from £70m to £140m turnover in two years which is down to an acquisitive approach and heavy investment in innovative new products. The Group is a multi-site operation covering seven UK based manufacturing facilities, some of which are further along the “lean journey” than others in terms of operational capabilities to deliver consistently on the drivers of quality, cost and delivery. A concerted focus on quality over the past two years has already delivered significant improvements, but the Group is not ready to rest on its laurels yet with a second phase of training and projects already planned.
CQM Training & Consultancy Ltd, specialists in commercial training and consultancy, were invited by Synseal Group to assess and understand the current status of Lean Six Sigma transformation on site, and determine the appropriate level of intervention necessary to begin the on-site journey towards World Class operation. Critical to the process would be CQM T&C’s ability to embed new behaviours and sustain the change in culture.
Our expert Lean consultants worked closely with the Senior Team at Synseal Group to map in place business improvements to deliver real bottom line benefits, understanding the operational requirements and KPI performance of the company. A cross functional group of employees were identified as being the ideal candidates with which to begin the site transformation. This initial group of 13 entered a structured workshop and coaching programme with a primary focus upon improving quality across the board.
A Foundation Green Belt Programme was defined as the required training solution to respond to the current business need. Creating and delivering a practical Green Belt programme of intervention, CQM T&C worked extensively with the group on site to ensure they had a sound understanding of the tools and techniques of delivering improvements. Implementing these techniques in their daily operations ensured these skills became second nature. Specific focus was also given to driving and embedding behavioural change to lock in improvements and savings through measurement, visualisation and standardisation.
The Green Belt candidates were mentored by Synseal’s continuous improvement team who have decades of experience in driving improvements in the automotive industry. Each candidate was tasked with demonstrating their understanding, and implementing the essentials of ‘Leading Practical Business Improvements Confidently’.
Recognition of Success
Robin Harrison, Synseal Group’s CI Manager added, “Our next step is to generate a wider culture of Lean Six Sigma across the company as we move towards these new concepts. Our plan is to have 150 employees receive Yellow Belt training, who can be mentored by our newly certified Green Belt practitioners, further embedding their understanding and practice of Lean within the company whilst identifying efficiencies in even more areas of the business.”
Robin continued, “This is the catalyst to drive the business forwards, to have everyone using a common language and using the same tools and techniques to ensure as a business we have the confidence of knowing that critical data gathering and analysis has been performed, which is key to driving improvements in quality.”
CQM T&C pride themselves on embedding and sustaining changes in culture and behaviours which have a dramatic impact on the businesses we work with. Ivan Bilbie, Synseal Group’s Senior Quality Controller for their Masterdor brand, was anxious prior to embarking upon the training. Having worked at the company for 15 years, Ivan is extremely technically proficient, but has not undertaken any academic learning since leaving school.
“I was put in a group of people I wouldn’t typically work with. They were educated to a higher level than me, and despite my misapprehension, they’ve really helped and supported me, particularly with the maths. In fact, it was their support that got me through.”
“Thanks to the tools I have gained from CQM T&C’s training I now know what information I want, and need, to be able to effectively and efficiently resolve the issues I’m presented with. This in turn helps me to prioritise their importance and deal with them correctly.”
“Synseal have an impressive culture which they are keen to develop and embed across the Group. We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with them, helping to develop their talent into leaders in manufacturing best practice.”
“The Green Belt programme has been a great success with all 13 employees becoming certified. It’s a real personal challenge to complete the Green Belt training and I’m really proud of each and every one of them.
All the projects were interlinked which created a great push-pull approach from all involved to ensure they were being implemented. Our investment in training has provided us with improvements worth tenfold the cost we put in, bringing Synseal a saving of £250K.”
As a company we really believe in being able to grow and nurture our own talent. Hannah Oakden is a prime example of one of our rising stars. Hannah has been nominated as a finalist in the Women in Construction Awards, partly through her commitment to training and development, such as the Green Belt training, and the significant value she has consequently added to the business.”