Operational Excellence (OE) is a business improvement process focused on team-based problem-solving and process improvement. OE leads to meaningful business transformations, including safer, more efficient workplaces. The program emphasizes leadership development, coaching and improvement routines designed to sustain progress and create a stronger culture of continuous improvement. Sherritt has improved visual management and the layout of work areas, management routines and displays to support communications, and weekly alignment on priorities and longer-term business plans.
The Moa Joint Venture’s OE program in Canada and Cuba has expanded to include a Lean Belt component that complements other OE processes. The Lean Belt program focuses on developing easy-to-use continuous improvement tools and putting those tools in the hands of employees. Examples of such tools include 6S (safety, sort, store, shine, standardize and sustain) techniques, process improvements (cycle time reduction) and visually managed daily huddle boards called Info Centres.
Employees can be trained and certified at different levels (white belt, green belt and black belt). Training of employees has been slowed due to COVID-19, with targeted virtual training being deployed to support specific improvement initiatives. With the move to a mix of on-site and remote work, the Info Centres have been made virtual (online), ensuring the entire organization remains engaged and aligned on organizational goals.
Through the Green Belt program, each leader developed a process improvement, and many of these have shown immediate benefits through improved time management, workflows, safety practices and inventory efficiencies. In 2020, further work was done to align the improvement initiatives with organizational priorities. In order to do this, the Fort Site took on tracking the Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) for each plant. The OEE calculation multiplies the Availability percentage by the Utilization percentage by the Quality percentage. The metric has allowed the organization to focus in particular on the Availability and Utilization opportunities in each plant. The metrics are displayed on the Info Centres across the organization, which allows anyone to see at a glance how we are performing. The data behind the calculation is evaluated using the Pareto principle where roughly 80% of the lost production opportunities come from 20% of the opportunities for improvement. With this realigned approach, key pieces of equipment and processes are being improved or redefined in order to have the greatest possible impact on production.
OE projects will continue to be advanced as part of the company’s objective to create a safer, more efficient workplace.