Operational Teams, Actors of the Plant Energies Performance

By Christian MAISONNEUVE, founder of Convergence&Performance

For ten years, Danone Fresh Dairy Products has been engaged in an industrial performance process known as DaMaWay (for Danone Manufacturing Way). Performance Energies are an important component of it and over a five year period, Danone’s fifty factories located around the world were able to post significant results in this area: more than a 30% reduction in total electric and thermal energies and more than a 40% reduction in total water consumption per ton of end product.

Clearly, as every manager knows, such progress cannot be achieved with technical improvement alone.

I was Director of Manufacturing for Danone Dairy and with Olivier Barrault from Utilities Performance, we led the change that allowed for these results. The success is not about taking away a prescribed, detailed method whatever the industrial issues, singular situations or the men and women who make the company. However, beyond the necessary technical means and know-how, such as the initial audit or the means of measurement and monitoring, defining some managerial principles can help to structure thinking and to build, in a more robust and less superficial way, the Energy Performance approach.

Energies Performance : a Technical and Managerial double Dimension

We are interested in Energies Performance which includes energy in the strict sense (heating, cooling, steam, compressed air…in electrical or thermal kWh) and also the water cycle (production and consumption of water in different quality level ranges and waste water treatment plants or discharge).

The Energies Performance is part of the Industrial Performance. As for the latter, Performance of the highest level is reached when there is a convergence of four factors:

  • Customer Value: these are mainly internal clients like Production and Maintenance in an interactive setting, defining Quality and Quantity factors. Customer-user satisfaction is an essential criterion for assessing the progress made.
  • Just Necessary: of course Energies Performance has an economic and ecological component by the sparing use of each of the necessary resources for energy production; but also, by a qualitative and quantitative definition of just necessary energies at each stage of the production and maintenance processes.
  • Continuous improvement: high performance requires continuous improvement. We will not go into detail on this key principle: it is virtually impossible to maintain a constant performance situation, especially when it is a high performance. If the systematic approach of continuous improvement firstly allows for the non-degradation of performance, good news : it allows for continual progress.
  • Mobilizing all actors: this will take place vertically and horizontally. Such mobilization therefore relates to all managerial levels and all functions of the plant.

Beyond the necessary technical performance – efficiency of boilers or cooling units, suppression of leakage, high Performance Energies require a cultural transformation: make each staff member from the Energies department to Production, from Production to Maintenance, a Performance Energies actor. Economic performance is thus part of a cultural and ecological revolution process.

This is true for each of four performance dimensions:

  • Customer Value: it is possible and necessary to challenge real needs everywhere throughout the plant. The use of Utilities was often –and still sometimes is– a sort of given with no questions asked, as is the case of tap water. The result is significant waste that no one is really aware of. A real work on awareness and education is therefore up to the Energies teams.
  • Just Necessary: as orderly management starts with oneself, the work is first done within the Energies department itself. The mobilization of everyone combined with concrete progress actions decisively contribute to the awareness and education of the teams invested with a new role for their customers-users.
  • Continuous Improvement: to be convinced that improvement is never ending requires scrupulous management coaching and the systematic taking into account of concrete experience. The difference between good and excellent is a million details!
  • Mobilizing all actors: in their new managerial role of awareness and education, the Energies department teams will have to overcome two difficulties.The first and most difficult is transforming themselves. Sometimes with significant seniority, these teams are often technically or physically quite far from production areas. Moving from the role of boiler or water treatment expert to energies coach won’t be that easy.The second difficulty is to add to the daily concerns of the Production and Maintenance teams – Safety, Quality, Productivity, Delays…- those of Energies Performance. The daily management of industrial performance thus seems to become more complex before, as you can see in the case of safety or quality, new opportunities arise everywhere benefitting the overall performance.

It is clearly a managerial revolution that is looming here which will succeed with a profound cooperation between the Energies and Production teams. However, as you know, nothing can be done without cooperation first being established within the Executive Committee to define a common vision for the contribution of Energies to the Industrial Performance.

In this perspective, we understand how important the presence of an Energies manager with a comprehensive profile is. Often it is first to convince the Executive Committee to move from a savings plan limited to technical actions and, indeed, often invisible the rest of the factory, to a cultural transformation that makes Energies Performance an important and obvious part of daily management, as well as product quality, equipment efficiency, … and this for all the activities of the plant.

As if this enormous challenge wasn’t already enough, this can’t only be the Energies Manager’s affair. The entire Energies team, in fact, must seize these new roles of listening to needs, understanding constraints real and imaginary (often more numerous than the real constraints), trainer in the field… that is to say the role of coach for optimal use of energy resources must be assumed.

Energies Performance and Industriel Performance: The “Lean” Management

The magic of the story is that observing from this new perspective, the production processes, in the broadest sense, including maintenance or industrial implementation of new products, opens spaces for unexpected progress. Far from limited to the addition of “Energies constraints”, the improvement process benefits from the dialogue within the company. The experience, which I and others, can leverage today, shows that comprehensive “energies analysis” of a production process with no preconceived ideas allows to better understand and thereby better identify quality factors and potential savings; including, paradoxically, when this understanding allows for a particular stage of production, to identify a need to increase, quantitatively or qualitatively, energy consumption, ultimately enabling a better control of the process.

It is therefore about establishing a dialogue to enable a common and convergent analysis of the production requirements in terms of a common Energies Performance ambition. All possible

questions and uncertainties deserve to be heard, all hypotheses to be examined, even the most ambitious when “Sure, it seems impossible, but if … or if…”

In the early 90s, I was the Total Quality director for a Valeo Group Branch. In the field of Quality, at that time, the automotive industry was beginning a similar transformation to the one before us today: move from a product quality obtained by multiple controls to a Quality Culture which implies that each step of the process is designed and conducted daily to ensure the necessary quality to those that follow in the footsteps of the same process. Over the last twenty years this transformation, which is cultural, has occurred in a majority of companies. “Quality is everyone’s business”! This is now crystal clear!

The Plant Quality Manager, of course, has his/her direct activities: laboratory, metrology, control of raw materials…. But the role of the Quality team is also, and even more importantly, to disseminate, maintain and deepen the Quality culture shared by all, because it is now understood that everyone, through multiple concrete contributions, is responsible for the final quality of the product.

We are thus moving towards a new paradigm that will be determined by a simple word order: “Energies is everyone’s business.”

The word “Lean” appeared in 1996 to define the principles of the Toyota Production System in the book Lean thinking by J.Womack D.Jones. The approach they expose brings two main consequences:

– Even better than their first book published in 1990 on the same topic, The machine that changed the world, the latter succeeded in widely sharing the conviction that the Toyota Production System principles, renamed “Lean”, can be profitably applied to all industrial and service activities.

– Because of the selected term, probably, a multitude of self-proclaimed “Lean” approaches have retained only the “Just Necessary” principle, largely forgetting the other three aspects of performance (Customer Value, Continuous Improvement, Mobilization of all actors). And what’s more, or to be more precise, what’s less, most are reduced to a painstaking use of the Toyota Production System toolbox. Doing so undoubtedly brings some rapid progress, but in no event nurtures a corporate (or factory) transformation as the authors advocated.

If “Lean” only provides tools to strengthen management via pressure, the short-term progress it generates carries a high risk of superficially hiding a strong lack of team motivation and unnecessary stress, which are mid-term carriers of a heavy and backward moving performance, or even the emergence of the notorious “psychosocial risks”.

Therefore, it is the managerial transformation that is by far the most difficult aspect to consider for a true “Lean” This alone will ensure a durable high performance!

You’ll have understood that the above has no other claim than to provide, through the identification of a few principles, a tool whose managerial thinking can be useful in building an industrial project with greater efficiency and solidity that will be able to examine the challenges in depth.

It is a demanding approach, up to the challenges of Energies Performance.