This core strategy is designed to leverage our scale to greater effect, by reducing complexity and focusing on our opportunities and strengths with more standardization at best-in-class levels. We also want to ensure that in the process of providing the best value-creating solutions to our customers, we organize ourselves in a very cost-effective way and provide a total cost reduction through effective process and product innovations.
The Bekaert Manufacturing System (BMS) helps us to make progress on this strategy. BMS is a program designed to ensure manufacturing excellence in all our processes and locations worldwide. BMS brings together the collective effort of all Bekaert plants to drive the lowest total cost offering to our customers.
BMS was launched at the end of 2014 and has now been implemented in nearly all plants worldwide. Enabled by the BMS methodology and tools, our plants have identified and implemented projects to increase safety, quality and efficiency, and to reduce costs.
Bekaert’s joint ventures with ArcelorMittal in Brazil and the plants belonging to the Bridon-Bekaert Ropes Group are included in the BMS implementation roadmap to enable similar benefits in their operations.
One of the final locations to implement BMS was Bekintex (Wetteren, Belgium), the facility that converts thin steel fibers into yarns and fabric. All employees were invited to a kick-off event during which the basics and benefits of the BMS methodology were explained. Operators and supervisors already noticed the value of the new way of working: “It’s easier to follow up on quality and productivity thanks to the new information tools because we all get the correct information at the same time. Teams also work better together because each member is more involved.”
The project progress and objectives defined within BMS have now also been integrated into the yearly planning cycle of the plants, so that the continued focus and improvement remain ensured.
In 2017, to keep the transformation impact of past BMS implementations sustainable, Bekaert established the Bekaert Manufacturing Academy. This program enables us to keep building our capabilities and to improve and share our standards and best practices, so that we keep evolving our way of working. In 2018, the Academy’s focus was on increasing plant productivity, standardization and adoption of 5S and on the preparation of an international group of Bekaert trainers responsible for bringing best practices to the shop floor.
Throughout 2018, operations managers from all over the world – including the US, Brazil, Slovakia, India and China – travelled to Belgium to attend workshops on BMS. Tina Tang, global program leader of the Bekaert Manufacturing Academy, led several of these workshops.
As a Chinese national regularly commuting to Belgium and other locations, Tina is an example of Bekaert’s international career path potential. After starting as a process engineer in Belgium, she moved on to other technical and quality-related functions around the world, before becoming HR Learning & Development Manager and Global Bekaert Manufacturing System Leader based out of China. Tina’s international career has also been noticed by the magazine Engineeringnet, which included Tina’s and other expats’ stories in an article dedicated to Bekaert’s international leadership strategy.
In 2018, BMS launched a new set of tools that particularly focus on quality, called ABC (Always Committed, Best Quality, Customer Delight). In addition to our continued focus on quality processes, such as effective quality controls and programs to reduce rejects and scrap, ABC targets quality improvements that will directly and visibly benefit our customers. The explicit focus on the customer brings manufacturing excellence (BMS) and customer excellence (BCE) together on the shop floor. With ABC we want to achieve a breakthrough in quality performance, durable problem solving and elimination, and a true customer-centric mindset throughout our operations worldwide.
In 2018, as the next step on our BMS journey, we also developed a digital framework to improve shop floor excellence. Based on this framework and a pilot project, plants will be equipped from 2019 onwards with new digital tools to improve our safety, quality, cost and delivery performance.