In 2010 the Foskor Group in South Africa recognised the need to examine their business to see where it could be improved both operationally and financially. After a rigorous selection process Foskor selected Knox D’Arcy.
Step 1 was a Preliminary Survey across its organisation encompassing an open cast mining operation and a downstream benefication process, processing the mined rock into chemicals for use in fertiliser.
The Survey identified a number of opportunities across both businesses focussed on maintenance and engineering performance and its impact on both the cost base and throughput.
Plant utilisation & throughput levels, downtime levels and causes, maintenance performance, operational problems, management control systems, labour productivity levels, management skills & behaviours and culture & resistance to change.
There then followed a 9-month Programme at the chemical business, designed to correct these issues and to improve the performance of maintenance.
The key aspects of the Programme were as follows:
New processes, redesigned and upgraded management control systems, a massive programme of management and supervisory training geared around a skills upgrade creating a new more dynamic and pro-active culture.
There were 3 strands to the training approach:
Firstly a technical work stream, designed around developing the new systems and processes required; this was followed by formal training sessions to get across the concepts of the new ways of working, the new management skills/styles and to the break the resistance to significant change; finally and most importantly, the ‘one-on-one’ follow-up to ensure that both the systems and the concepts were being put into practice in each manager’s place of work.
Maintenance labour productivity more than doubled and benefits of R22 million per annum were evaluated (approx. £1.8 million), measured as additional standard hours of work carried out per paid hour.
A new streamlined job authorisation processes was introuduced which reduced lost time between jobs. A new break structure was installed which reduced lost time during and at the end of each shift. New planning systems and processes were introduced and vitally important, enhanced supervisory skills, as evidenced by a huge increase in the time spent actively managing jobs and performance. New productivity reporting measures increased accountability and corrective actions.
As well as improved day to day performance, a module to improve shut down planning resulted in fewer down time days.