Lean machine

CMP Batteries' lean leader David Ling explains how the Excell programme cuts waste and boosts profits

The Exide Technologies' Excell programme seeks to apply lean manufacturing techniques to all Exide plants worldwide. CMP Batteries' Over Hulton factory achieved the Silver Excell award in May last year and has now embarked on a three-year programme of work to achieve Gold status.

Although the concept is widely known as lean manufacturing, the Excell programme applies lean techniques throughout the business organisation and supply chain. Basically, the aim of the programme is the total elimination of waste in all areas and a complete focus on the requirements of our customers. In doing so, the company seeks to continually improve its performance.

More with less and working smarter

Lean manufacturing is all about doing more with less, doing things right first time, working smarter and making the best use of all resources. The Excell programme relies on the involvement of everyone in the organisation in achieving these goals, and to support this, the company runs an ongoing training programme to ensure that everyone understands the principles, objectives and tools used. The programme has delivered improvements in many areas. Raw material inventory values have been reduced by a massive 75%. Energy costs have reduced by 30%. Recordable accident rates have been reduced by 80%. Quality levels have improved substantially, with scrap and defect rates reduced across the factory, and on-time delivery rates to our customers have improved.

Environmental benefits

The focus on the elimination of waste in all areas of the factory does not only benefit the company in delivering cost savings, but also has wider benefits for the environment. By focusing on eliminating defects and reducing scrap the energy consumed per item is reduced, as more products are manufactured correctly the first time.

Although all "scrap" lead is already recycled, energy is also saved by the fact that the company no longer needs to reprocess at the same levels. At factory department level, improvement groups are always seeking to reduce waste and use their ingenuity to identify opportunities for improvements and find solutions to problems. The substantial improvements CMP Batteries has achieved have been delivered through the completion of many small projects involving many people. Practical measures Information from the pasting area group resulted in the plate design being modified, resulting in an improved pasting process and reduced scrap. Components have also been modified to include error proofing design so that they can only be fitted the correct way.

In the separator manufacturing area the group identified that the cardboard packaging used to deliver raw material could also be used to pack manufactured components for dispatch to European factories. Previously this material was scrapped.

The battery assembly group developed a novel way to ensure that sulphuric acid removed from cells in the final adjustment process was 100% recycled. Previously this had been scrapped through specialist chemical scrap agents.

Lean production is a road rather than a destination and the company is well on target and will be continually looking to improve all aspects of manufacturing for the benefit of staff, customers and all our stakeholders. But driving production efficiency through lean initiatives not only saves money, it also has a positive impact on the environment.


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