Coor puts its good ideas into a system

Two years ago, Coor started broad-based systematic improvement work, coupled with a clear culture of improvement. The idea was to utilise the creativity and ideas of all its employees, with the aim of developing its business and provision to customers. This work is now taking its next step through a new IT system supporting the improvement process.

“We’ve succeeded in moving our work with ideas right up the agenda, gaining commitment from management and staff close to operations. We’ve got a good process for our work with ideas and improvements but don’t have an effective support system, which we’re now setting right,” says Emilia Andersson, a Contract Developer at Coor.

Emilia Andersson has been responsible for developing the system named Actio, which is Latin for to act, and the idea is to shorten the distance between words and action. A broad system roll-out through Coor is scheduled for January.

Getting greater commitment to progres

The investment in more systematic work on improvement began two years ago, when Coor’s research discovered that customers wanted a more proactive approach to their service provision. Against this background, and with an understanding that all employees possess valuable ideas, Coor initiated major work on improvements.

Inspirational lectures from recognised researchers and figures from the sector kick-started the initiative. A new improvement process was started up and Excel-formatted improvements logbooks were implemented group wide. Proposals for improvement were introduced as a mandatory element of all internal workplace meetings. Monitoring of the number of improvement proposals per employee also started. A lot of units introduced notice-boards so that ideas from all staff could be captured easily on an ongoing basis. Some operations brought in improvement coaches.

“Because our customers operate in different sectors, we have to take care not to be too controlling. The improvement process is mandatory, and by establishing clear goals that we regularly monitor, we get our work running smoothly. However, we have to let each operation choose its methodology on the basis of what suits its customers best. One example is our provision for automotive industry customers. In many of these cases, we work according to ‘Six Sigma’, because this is an improvement process used in the car industry which works well there,” continues Emilia.

Good results

The ideas have flooded in since the initiative started, and the work has a lot of impetus, which hasn’t escaped customers’ attention.

In our annual customer surveys in the past two years, we have significantly increased our customers’ perception of us making proposals for improvement proactively. Obviously that’s fantastic—it’s exactly what we wanted to achieve when we got this work underway,” adds Emilia.

Proposed customer improvements can be small or large. One proposal that created a big saving for the customer was the simple but ingenious idea of a new process to clean fixing plates* when car components are painted. For this, Coor’s staff at Volvo Cars’ Torslanda plant created a new working method that generated yearly savings of SEK 400,000 for the customer. Another, presented after night patrolling at some workplaces, was for needs-adapted operating times for ventilation systems and adjusted lighting in common areas, which produced big savings.

A new system enhances work on improvements

But as the improvement process has bedded in and working with ideas has gathered pace, the need for simple and effective system support has accentuated. This is why Coor has invested in a new web-based system, which stores proposals for improvement, and structured them for the customer Coor is working for.

“Actio has been piloted on some of Coor’s provisions and the results are positive; the system has a range of benefits. Using the system, following the status of an idea, and the progress made in realising it, can be monitored simply and clearly. It is also possible to prepare specific action-plans in the system. Because the system will be used group-wide, it’s easy to monitor our work on improvements consistently. It is also easy to extract reports and produce clear statistics for our customers, which we use to monitor provision. The system provides us with the right conditions for being able to continue working with improvements in a good, efficient way, so we can keep adding value for our customers,” concludes Emilia.

To find out more:

Contact Emilia Andersson, Contract Developer at Coor Service Management, emilia.andersson@coor.com or +46 (0)8 553 95103

* Fixing plates are metal clamps used to hold components like car doors or trunk lids in place for painting.