A basketball, football or volleyball is a key element of the yearly strategy session atthe Magna Neuenstein transmission plant in Germany, as the team developsgame-changers on the road to becoming a world-class smart factory.
Aldo Cirilli, general manager at Neuenstein until February and current generalmanager at Magna's Mudugno Italy facility, established a process of gatheringdozens of managers and employees in a conference room and throwing out thefirst ball, along with a challenge.
“If you want to ensure your future, prove you are smarter” is a typical prompt.
Whoever catches the ball starts a rapid brainstorming session that may includehow to boost efficiency or improve quality, and then throws it to the next person.
At the end of the session, all of the participants sign the ball, a trophy that goes ondisplay at the division.
For this competitive workforce of 1,085, it’s not just about Industry 4.0 or buildingsome of the most complex transmissions in the world for nine customers,including BMW, Daimler and Ferrari. They call it “Neuenstein 4.0,” a vision to“become the best plant in Magna worldwide,” Cirilli said.
“We started three years ago by defining the vision for the plant of where we wantto be in 10 years,” Cirilli explained. “The strategy session helps us reach that vision.The idea is to keep the ball in the air and the ideas flowing. You own the ball whenit’s in your hands. Strategizing becomes a physical thing. It makes you look in theair at what is in front of you. And when you pass the ball, you have to make surethat your colleague gets it, which means your idea or thought is understood,owned and restated.”
The annual plan goes into a strategy book that is distributed to every employee,even the plant’s security guards. The book includes the four game-changingmilestones in the history of the plant and a glossary that makes the document easyto understand for all levels of the organization.
This approach yields tangible results, Cirilli said, including 20 percent higherproductivity for a specific product line, as ideas for redesigning and simplifyingproduction tasks are implemented and tests that were not effective are dropped.One idea for a completely new process resulted in shaving 15 seconds off the timeit takes to build a certain transmission, something that can be done in under aminute now.
A photographer and graphic artist in his spare time, Cirilli is admired by employeesfor being a coach, cheerleader – and visionary.
“This plant has the energy to own its future,” Cirilli said. “If there is something thatlooks impossible to be achieved, the employees are motivated to get it done.”
Aldo Cirilli, former Neuensteingeneral manager and current generalmanager at Mudugno
The elite team at Neuenstein is building the dual-clutcheight-speed transmission for the Ferrari SF90 Stradale, a newnameplate set to hit the market in 2020. The 2020 FerrariRoma, a 612-horsepower V8 coupe, will also feature the newtransmission.
In another big win, Neuenstein, and its sister plant inKechnec, Slovakia, build front-wheel-drive dual-clutchtransmissions, including hybrid variants, for the BMW Group,which has awarded Magna its largest production order fortransmission technologies in company history.
Neuenstein's Team Powertrain
Neuenstein All Stars
The formula for success at Neuenstein begins with a “team that is really strongin finding solutions,” said Aldo Cirilli, the plant’s general manager.
The main players of the Neuenstein 4.0 projects: Gerd Christ, Jochen Steiner, Ali-Binat Arslan, Tobias Wessely, Elisa Gemmel, Timo Metzger, Rainer Reustlen,Andreas Fiedler, Marco Roll, Ricardo Lamas-Alvarez, Dusan Kremenovic, Klaus Gruener and Turan Karimani. Here is how they make it happen:
Assistant General Manager
“FATHER OF THE INNOVATION PROGRAM”
“We believe our employees should have an average free timeof 20 to 30 percent a day where they can think about newthings. If you are always busy with basic business, you willnever have the time to generate new thoughts. This time canbe spent on something as simple as discussions on the shopfloor between two people.
“Operators need to be involved to keep quality at a high levelas we develop projects like ‘online condition monitoring.’Employees use computers to monitor assembly lineequipment, and then suggest solutions or ideas forimprovement. This is a new approach to ‘smart quality’ and‘smart maintenance,’ one that has saved the plant $1.2million Euros per year.”
Jochen Steiner (left) andGerd Christ
“I started here with an apprenticeship in 2003 and thenworked as a mechanic in maintenance. In the past, itsometimes took two days to fix a problem. Now, we are ableto plan maintenance so there is no downtime. It’s faster todetect the cause with online condition monitoring ofmachines.
“Predictive maintenance means machines can tell us whenthey need to be repaired by sending a message to amaintenance person via email. About 30 machines here cando this, and in the future about 60 will have the capability.This prevents breakdowns and means you can producemore parts.”
“Industry 4.0 is not a one-man show. It’s teamwork. One person could neverachieve what we’ve done. A good example is our new mobile maintenance app forsmartphones and tablets used by 70 maintenance people here. This app enablesour employees to do preventive maintenance, look up electrical or hydraulic plans,and take pictures or movies of a problem. It saves time and helps the user work onimprovements, instead of paperwork.
“Because we work so hard on testing and innovating, I bring brownies to workevery Friday. It’s one small way to make people happy.”
“We are creating the building blocks of smart factories. If youput them all together, it’s part of the Industry 4.0 puzzle.We’re doing the right projects and creating a lot of data,which is the basis of everything.
“One example is our digital audits. In the past, about 120checklists were paper-based. We now have all of thechecklists in one application for smartphones and tablets.This provides us with real-time information and audit resultsthat are posted on digital smartboards throughout the plant.Employees can access the information and visualize it.
“The digital smartboards save 16,244 pieces of paper a yearand eliminate 3,561 hours spent on generating reports andmaking copies.”
“This is my first job after earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. It’sfun to work with cross-functional teams. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned isthat it takes a team to develop a new project, and the people from the shop floormust be involved.
“We can’t implement quality projects without them. They know the daily problemsand we try to solve them together. That’s why we’re on the shop floor every day,talking to them about their ideas for smart machines.”
“Our team came up with a simple way to visualize if a part is bad orgood by using smiley faces in our new ‘visual process monitoring.’
“In the past, the timeline of all measurements was located on amachine in paper. A better approach is to use a visual monitor.Operators can see the performance trend with the help of smileyfaces on the monitor; green is good and red is bad.
“We installed a prototype on one production machine in 2019. In2020, we plan to put this new system on 100 machines and expectto reduce tooling costs up to 30 percent.”