The end has come for the test balloons that were released at Blozo, in order to improve the operational management. The metalworking company in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands has made a clear choice in what it wants to become exactly and which route it will follow to achieve it. Blozo wants to be a service provider that generates top solutions and offers great service, with a short lead time. With whom customers like to do business and where their own employees feel that they contribute to the success of their company. “This is how we grow”, says director and owner Maurice Blonk.
Those test balloons were good ideas at the time, but without a clear vision and a
good execution, most stranded prematurely. “We immediately tried to solve many problems throughout the company”, explains Maurice Blonk. “This often took months, because the organization thought too much in boxes and so every solution had to pass through too many departments. As a result, employees – whilst waiting for “the solution” – sometimes took on a ‘wait and see’ attitude.”
That also applied to himself. The door to his office was always open, but a question from an employee who came in was answered simply so that both could continue work quickly. Insufficient attention was paid to why the question had to be asked at all. Due to a lack of vision, Maurice Blonk was too much led by the day-to-day problems. In addition, he saw automation as a great way to limit the influence of employees, opposed to working properly on developing their knowledge and skills. In decisions and investments, he relied too much on the experiences of fellow companies and the promised potential of machines and software.
His eyes were actually opened by the arrival of a quality manager. With his business background he focused on solving quality problems, but mainly asked Blonk questions: what would you like to accomplish with your company? Where do you want to go? “Thinking about this made me realize that the return of my company decreased not only because of the price pressure in the market, but mainly because we had organized too much in layers and departments. Everyone from the management team was involved, but it was insufficient to get broadly supported solutions implemented and workable.
As the success of the collaboration failed to materialize and the good ideas often stranded, the involvement also declined. That involvement was also missing because in the metal business we nowadays have an abundance of specialists. This not only makes communication difficult, but also creating product ownership because a product has to cover so many layers. Everyone is doing their thing, but the worker of the metal press has no idea whether the order on which he has worked so hard , has gone out on time. The pleasant feeling of having contributed to that – that makes you feel proud – is missing. We are now really going change that.”
Yet, how do you achieve that and where do you start? A survey among the most important customers of what they expect from Blozo, showed that cost and quality are important. However, the customers mainly indicated that they appreciated a solution-oriented and flexible supplier with good service. Various customers also said that they were satisfied with the price and the quality of the solutions, but that it all could be done a little faster.
“We have also asked ourselves what kind of company we would like to become”, says Blonk. “You have to be real. We do not have product leadership, so we do not strive for that. We also did not want to fully compete on cost. So we are not going to create a portal. We would like to implement a system with which we can offer customers a quick solution. Not every customer, but customers with a frequent need for suppliers who think along with them.”
Various strategies to achieve this were discussed. Ultimately, the choice for QRM (Quick Response Manufacturing) was made. This is a business strategy that aims to optimize business results by increasing the responsiveness and flexibility of organizations. Process and employees are developed with the focus on (lead) time. In accomplishing this, Blozo chose to partner with Censor. Not only because there was a very good click with the people at Censor, but mainly because Censor assigns such an important role to the employees.
In January Maurice Blonk announced the choice to implement QRM to his employees during a staff meeting. He thereby emphasized the decision to walk this new path together. With the important goal of promoting sustainable employability of the workers. To prevent them from experiencing QRM as a new test balloon, the process of change started immediately. The QRM team, containing twelve people from all areas of the company, was announced directly during the meeting. Immediately afterwards, all workers attended a workshop.
And now they are already working on it together. Teams will be formed that will have a major influence on the orders for which they are responsible. All disciplines are involved in these teams. The starting point is that they all contribute to creating added value based on their craftsmanship. That they address waiting times in the organization and thus contribute to a smart, smoothly functioning organization that responds quickly. Exactly what the customers desire. Maurice Blonk: “We want people who come into contact with us to experience us as a great company, with friendly people who think in solutions that will benefit them. We can distinguish ourselves with that. If we organize well, we can also improve on price. QRM is therefore a strategy that we dare to grow with!”