MANN+HUMMEL manufactures more than 70,000 different products at more than 40 locations around the world. More than 15,000 employees are directly or indirectly involved in the area of operations. In terms of figures, 26 filter products run off the production line every second. I think this is really impressive. But to enable such an output, many work processes have to work perfectly together and structures have to be just right. In order to offer the best possible support to plants and especially our employees in their daily work, we use the MANN+HUMMEL Production System (MHPS). The development of the system was concluded last year and the system is now being implemented at different company locations. For this purpose, all essential production information is prepared in a logical process and in particular is accessible from a central point. Here MANN+HUMMEL uses web-based SharePoint technology as it enables each employee comfortable access to information relevant for the respective task.
What is a production system anyways?
In a company, a production system defines the strategies, principles and methods used to manufacture goods and offer services. This concerns the actual production process, for example, the manufacture of an air cleaner, and also a lot of other aspects. The focus here is on areas such as learning organization, standardization, continuous improvement, operative excellence and naturally also the current drive towards digitalization. MANN+HUMMEL has always had requirements and solutions for different areas, but up to the present these areas have not necessarily interacted. In the new production system, we have now closely linked all these aspects and in future want to use the system to work even more efficiently and effectively.
The challenge: filling the MHPS with life
Well, in theory, it is relatively easy (!) to design a production system. This takes a considerable amount of time and a number of technical personnel. But the mere presence of the system is not enough. The real challenge is to fill the system with life. Therefore, at MANN+HUMMEL we decided not to limit ourselves to the theory, but also involved numerous practical experts from different backgrounds and areas of responsibility. Valuable information derived from their know-how and practical experience flowed into the system. In particular, we coordinated this process, prepared the information, examined the information for consistency and then inputted the information into the MHPS. Thanks to global cooperation this has avoided a theoretical construct which in practice might quickly turn out to be useless. In fact, we established a practice-oriented system which consists of proven solutions.
The MHPS covers a total of 15 subject areas which are divided into five categories. Without being able at this stage to introduce these in detail, one can say they include all the relevant areas which can have an effect on our production processes. This ranges from the training of new employees and further education for existing colleagues to information on and the requirements for lean production, and also includes international standardization to ensure that our customers always receive the same product quality regardless of the plant where the product was manufactured. The system also includes information on production planning, control and quality management. Information on the use of new technology, for example, can also be exploited to further increase production efficiency. In total, this is a holistic system which is clearly oriented to meeting the needs of our customers.
Everything is constantly developing
The constant development of everything around us means that our production system is also not something rigid which has been elaborated now and will possibly be revised after five years. We define our MHPS as something subject to continuous development. In the company, for example, there is one expert responsible for each subject area to ensure information is up to date, monitor new developments and assess new possibilities, and push through the necessary adjustments and improvements to the system. These experts primarily draw on ideas, experience and expertise of all other experts in the global network. This is because a production system merely on its own will not consolidate our position as global market leader – in fact, it is the employees and their know-how on which the system is based which fill the system with life and make it work.