Álvaro Ballesteros

Managing Partner at DIT Consultancy

What are the ingredients for the implementation of the LEAN philosophy in a company?

LEAN was created by TOYOTA at the end of WWII to survive invasion, industrial in this case, of the three great US car builders: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Until then, the improvement was based on scraping seconds from the machines’ cycles when these were operating: nobody was concerned about downtimes. A clear example: the Press lines had 10 hours of change time and nobody analyzed this. TOYOTA based the new paradigm on eliminating Non-Productive operations, thus getting rid of wastefulness. Their first tool, the SMED, reduced the changing times of the press lines from 10 hours to 10 minutes: this was the start of everything.

The ingredients for the implementation of LEAN in a company are mainly paying special attention and analyzing wastefulness, as if all of the members of the company could use night-vision goggles to gain more insight. On the other hand, it is necessary to create Radical and Continuous Improvement dynamics that allow to identify, start-up and finish key LEAN projects.

What variable marks the difference in the implementation of LEAN excellence?

The time invested in implementing the identified improvements.

To what extent must companies be willing to change their productivity philosophy?

To a great one, at the end the main indicator of a company's good health, and quite possibly the key to its survival, is its invoicing per employee.

What is your experience with its implementation in the TUBACEX companies?

It is very good, thanks to a clear leadership from key people in Top Management, and the success of the Tubacex Production System (TxPS) as a structured method for the identification of wastefulness and the search for root solutions to eliminate them permanently.

How would you assess the results of the past years?

In the Spanish Business Unit, the LEAN Radical Improvement is at full speed thanks to the involvement of the managing team. Every six months, each plant starts and finishes 2 LEAN Projects, which implies that a set of twelve Projects are finished within a year (having a clear translation into Euros in the Balance Sheet). The speed of the LEAN changes should serve as an example for the rest of the Business Units.

Time is essential for the excellence of LEAN

What do you think we should improve?

I believe the future is in the hands of those who achieve shorter deadlines in the three key business processes of any industrial company: manufacturing, order-payment and industrialization of new products.

Let’s think ZARA: the process of designing, prototyping, creating pre-series, manufacturing and the arrival of the production at the shops takes 15 days in total. Their closest competitors take 4 months. This ability to react to trends that their hundreds of scouts see in the streets, catwalks, concerts, etc. is what makes ZARA the Industrial Company with highest profit in the world.

Being the fastest to manufacturer, deliver orders and industrialize is my enthusiastic recommendation to guarantee the future of the entire TUBACEX family. I am sure that they will reach this position.