Ten cate protective fabrics:
Investing in efficiency and in people
Since investors took over Ten Cate from Nijverdal two years ago, the company is going through an ambitious growth program. A large-scale improvement process that should strengthen the individual Ten Cate companies. This also applies to Ten Cate Protective Fabrics. The desired output is higher delivery reliability, higher output and a more consistent product quality. In order to achieve this, better training and a higher level of knowledge among the operators is necessary. That meant only one thing: investing in efficiency and in people.
Improvement starts with looking at what is already available in knowledge and information. Substantive, technical information for each production line is available. Thumb-packed manuals guide you through the entire production process. Each discipline, however, approaches the process from its own perspective: quality control, the technological process and the breakdown service. And the fact that you have to look up into the first burner to see if the fabric is running tight, that is not in there. That is experience.
Do you hear that soft hum?
Many operators have been working for Ten Cate for years. They know the production line that they serve like the back of their hand. They know what the smell in the production hall should be like, what the line should sound like and where they should look to see at a glance whether the fabric runs through the machine tight enough. They also have the same kind of knowledge at the Technical Department. In the case of this one fault report, it is often only a loose lid. That is only a matter of locking the lid again and you can continue. However, you do need to know.
Bundling knowledge and experience
Mark Oude Aarninkhof, operations manager at Ten Cate Protective Fabrics says: "We decided to look for a party that could develop one instrument per production line with all the critical process information including all empirical knowledge. We ended up at Elicit B.V., good at 'getting knowledge out of heads', as they say themselves. And I can now confirm that from my own experience."
Ready in 4 workshops
Operator and course instructor Bert Bouwhuis has been working at Ten Cate for 27 years. He became involved in the first production line that Elicit was going to chart. "Wouter Schotborgh from Elicit put together all the disciplines involved: 2 operators/course instructors, 1 technologist and 1 quality employee and 2 employees of the Technical Department. This resulted in interesting discussions, for example about what to do when one of the burners breaks down. Letting the line run more slowly leads to color difference in the final product, the technologist knows. My focus as an operator, however, is more on preventing the line from coming to a standstill. The effect our actions have on the end product is less transparent for us."
It took four workshop sessions, but then there was a complete and clear overview of the most important relationships between settings, production parts and final quality, including instructions on what to do in case of malfunctions. Bert Bouwhuis looks back with satisfaction: "The fingerspitzengefühl of the fixed operators and all technological, disruptive and qualitative knowledge are now bundled and easily accessible to everyone."
One tool for reference, training and testing
Ivo Spaargaren, operations director at Ten Cate Protective Fabrics agrees: "I am positively surprised by the professionalism of the instrument and the extent to which it makes interaction between operator and information possible. All information is immediately available 'along the line' via an iPad. Thanks to the testing questions that Elicit has drawn up, we can also use the tool as an annual refresher course and for the training of new operators. This means that the instrument contributes both to efficiency and to increasing the level of knowledge."