Producing major benefits with Systems Thinking

An interview with Kevin Ramshaw, Contour Premium Aircraft Seating, in which he describes how PMI’s methods can draw out the best of ideas from staff to produce major benefits


Working with PMI

[I first came across PMI with my former organisation] when I was managing a aero-engine programme and we were trying to reduce our lead time. We set ourselves a goal to make the engine from parts coming into stores to dispatching the engine to the customer within 10 days. […] In the first place when we started measuring this we were taking something in the order of 95 – 100 days to actually make the engine. […] It was actually one of the key goals for improving the operational effectiveness within the company and it was a goal that was set across the whole company. There was no belief within the business that we could really do it. It was one of those real stretch targets and particularly on the shop floor everybody said there is absolutely no way you will be able to make an engine in 10 days, it’s a pipe-dream.

Systems Thinking

It was a big programme and we have two or three people helping us almost full time in some stages. We had to put people through quite a lot of quality training so that they actually understood what processes were. We basically put a plan together so we understood what we had to do and treated it as a project. Set ourselves the objective, the purpose, and put a team together. We then actually went out an mapped the process from start to finish. We could then clearly understand from that where the bottlenecks were, what was taking the time and where we had to focus our efforts in order to get to a 10 day engine. It was looking at the wider system than just what we were managing in our factory and that was part of the education from PMI to look at who the suppliers were, who the enablers were, so the whole company actually contributed.

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Kevin Ramshaw, Contour Premium Aircraft Seating