validus management consultancy UK

Manufacturing Case Study

UK car manufacturer

Engine plant struggling to meet required production ramp-up rate
Engine plant increased its output performance rate from 25 units per hour to 33 units per hour


  • A major UK based car manufacturer
  • Undertaking a major change programme that integrated: updating of site manufacturing facility to world-class standards; integration of cultures following company acquisition; the launch of a new model


  • The engine plant was struggling to meet required production 'ramp-up' rate
  • Differing views between production and engineering on key problem areas - underlying problems were not visible to engineers and were not being addressed
  • Need to address the inherited 'culture' and working practices at the Cowley site


  • Established a series of 'self-steering' improvement teams as an integral part of the 'Wings' (Working in Groups) site-wide initiative
  • Worked closely with engine associates to systematically map all manufacturing processes stations and identify where problems were occurring / key bottleneck areas
  • Established a series of trackside problem solving meetings at problem stations
  • Commenced data gathering using highly visual, trackside collation techniques – developed cause / effect relationship diagrams
  • Reviewed team findings with senior production and engineering managers
  • Re-focused emphasis from previously perceived major problems (that were in reality not significant) to root causes
  • Extended the principle of trackside data collation and root cause analysis to other problem areas. The data quickly became the key point of reference for senior management updating as well as for operational improvement actions


  • Major shift of focus from previously perceived problems to root causes
  • Improved co-ordination and co-operation between production, engineering and Supplier Quality Assessment (SQA) in problem solving
  • Specific improvements included:
    • Modifications to a mechanical grab at the end of a hub-line that was failing to engage correctly and slowing line performance
    • Change of tooling design for a nut runner that was subject to wear and adversely affecting operator performance
    • Introduction of improved job-rotation patterns for assembly of the engine sub-frame. This was particularly physically demanding and proving difficult for operators to keep to cycle times
    • Active engagement of SQA department in trackside data reviews to re-examine problematic component supplies that had previously been tolerated
    • Improved production planning and line balancing for higher performance engine specifications
  • Overall, the engine plant increased its output performance rate from 25 units per hour to 33 units per hour within a six week period