Vetipak is a big player in the packaging market. The company has different locations in the Netherlands and delivers scalable and superior co-packaging services. As an innovative and flexible company, Vetipak is always on the move.
In the last four years, Vetipak has worked really hard on process improvement, and the results are significant. Product manager John van Heel, from the Veghel location, talks about Vetipak’s shift from reactive to proactive working.
The Vetipak Veghel site, on the right product manager John van Heel.
'Vetipak wraps products. A customer, for example, orders 1000 product displays. The customer specifies the type of packaging and the candy mix. We order the bulk goods (candy), order the packaging materials and get going. The candy is processed in containers using counters, transported via elevators, and deposited in a packaging machine. We use both machine lines and manual lines in our different locations. Staffing the lines really depends on the season. It’s quite dynamic.
Vetipak uses a certified quality system that not only complies with all legal food regulations but also takes the customer’s wishes into account. That’s why our motto is: "Together we make the difference".'
"Continuous improvement runs through every vein of your body. Once it’s there, there’s no other way to look at the process.”
Ever since the start with operational excellence (OPEX), four years ago, process improvement has played a significantly larger part within the company.
'We discovered we were far too busy putting out fires. We used short-term thinking instead of finding solutions that would help us in the long-term. Then we started using OPEX. That’s how we embraced continuous improvement. Then, you realize that continuous improvement runs through every vein of your body. Once it’s there, there’s no other way to look at the process.'
With continuous improvement in mind, Vetipak set out new goals.
'Our focus has shifted. In the past, we focused on subpar results; now we look at waste: where does it occur, where does it come from, where should our priorities lie?'
During this phase, Cierpa came to the rescue. Moreover, the OEE Cockpit enabled Vetipak to take significant steps.
'To be able to improve, you need to know where waste occurs. In the past, we assumed a lot, but that doesn’t really help. When a machine halts frequently, you need to find out why, where, and how often it occurs.
With Cierpa, we gained more insight. Cierpa helped us customize the OEE cockpit with additional relevant options and together we came up with valuable and customized solutions for our factory.
This way, we found out that waste at Vetipak has two primary causes: malfunctions and short breaks in production. We succeeded in recognizing the recurring issues, analyzing them, and addressing the main causes.'
”We went from reactive working to proactive working.”
'A great example is crooked bags. Products were packed in a bag. However, these bags weren’t properly sealed. We noticed the problem, but we couldn’t find that one specific cause. So we installed an improvement team that did find out where things went wrong. In the end, it turned out one of the machines was soiled, which made the foil jam inside the machine. With the cause known, we came up with the solution, namely the development of a standard for machine cleaning.
That, of course, is our goal: we don’t want to put out fires; we want to be ahead of the problem.'
So now you get significant results. However, as is always the case with continuous improvement, the work is never done.
'The system develops continuously. Sometimes I’ll have an improvement idea that I want to test, alter and then implement. Cierpa thinks with us and helps us take the next step. We never stand still but have developed a dynamic collaboration. We keep developing too.
We’ve always used production line managers (we call them A1) working on the line as well. Now, we see great results when we over-plan the A1s. We see more progress if A1s have the time to make OEE analyses or overviews, instead of being overly busy to keep the line working.'
What are your future goals?
'It’s good to know that management has changed its way of thinking. With a long-term perspective, we can really focus on fundamental improvements.'
”OEE Cockpit can surely help us attain our future goals.”
'We have a couple of long-term focal points. First of all, to work autonomously. We want everyone, from cleaner to CEO, to know how to be the best within their area of expertise, and how to realize it. Also, with continuous improvement, we hope to stop night shifts eventually. It is quite a strain on our people and our organization, and so we’d like to eliminate that.
Establishing standards is essential for autonomous working. Gaining insight into waste on the production lines helps to determine if and when we can eliminate night shifts. The OEE Cockpit can surely help us attain our future goals.'
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