Eric van der Horst, General Manager at AXEL Heijningen, Netherlands
When my daughter was just a few years old and you asked her “What does your dad do for work?", she would respond: ‘’He makes factories!” She is a clever girl and she was right.
A factory can only produce good quality parts if you first make the factory. A factory isn’t just a big space between 4 walls with stack pipes, equipment and lots of people inside of it. No. It is a place full of connections, working together and the weakest connection…
“What you see is what you get” this is my favorite phrase.
For example: I have 2 similar cars next to each other, one is clean on the inside and outside and the other looks like a dozen students have had a party inside of it. If you poll random people to compare the cars and ask them which car drives better, the majority will say the clean one! Why is this? The appearance makes you feel better, you are more motivated to drive it, to drive it safely and keep the car free from damage. The pedals and shift gear are more accessible and noticeable, which is also handy to operate!
But the motor inside is the same, so why don't they give the same performance? Stop. We believe it is the same, but in reality, the engine compartment is also cleaner because the driver also did the cleaning, inspection and 1st line maintenance on the engine compartment. He took the car regularly to the workshop to be checked by a maintenance crew. The driver and the technicians maintain it with discipline based on the Standard Operating Procedures. Small defects, leakages and low oil levels are detected on time and repaired before the performance of the car deteriorates or the car is left stranded by a major breakdown. The clean car is more reliable and does its job better, satisfying its driver and passengers!
This car is our grease factory! “What you see is what you get.” The drivers are our people, the passengers our customers.
…The grease plant engine is the equipment operated by all the connections. Those connections are our people. They are motivated, skilled and committed to working according to our Visual Factory standards, like lean 5S. It is not a single person “making the factory”, but rather all our workers who are part of the construction team!
At AXEL, we work every day to maintain our factory and always look out for ways to make it even better, because you are never finished with “making factories!”