Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion finds missing link in its LEAN implementation

Written by Poul Breil-Hansen, Editor, Erhvervsmagasinet SCM
Published at P360.dk
Date: 27.07.14
Link to article

Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion is one of the Lean front runners in Denmark, and especially since 2009 they have shifted into a higher gear. But there have always been challenges with following standards on the production floor. That is what Training Within Industry (TWI) are now going to change.


Jakob Manori is the head of Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion and last summer he participated in the first European TWI conference. When he returned to his organization, the message was clear: Training Within Industry is the missing link that can get Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion's Lean chain to interlink all the way from theory on boards, value stream maps, standards and other tools to actual practice on the production floor in Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion's two package sorting centrals in Brøndby and Taulov.

"Like many other organizations, we've had to admit that our standards were not followed to 100 percent. We had come a long way, but not far enough, and in 2013 it caused a lot of work injuries. Productivity and delivery quality are at a very high level compared to other European packaging distribution companies, but it could be even higher," says Karen Stenholt and Per Albrektsen from Lean Office.

Side-by-side training creates variation

Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion's package center occasionally experienced that a sorter stopped operating, partly due to user error, which made us to go back 2,000-3,000 packages before the sorter started again. Such things subsequently create an increased pressure for the rest of the day for delivery to the recipient to be made on time. For a long time, Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion has worked hard to develop, define and document standards, but the last part, namely the instruction or training of the standard with the individual employee on the production floor, has been somewhat sluggish. "Here we have worked with side-by-side learning, which for the most part has worked well. However, side-by-side learning naturally creates standards that will inevitably vary slightly from employee to employee, and then it's no longer a true standard. This is where variation occurs in the execution of the process and this creates room for work injuries and production disturbances," Karen Stenholt explains.

Systematic training

TWI is more systematic than side-by-side training. Side-by-side learning easily becomes more unstructured and "local", while TWI with its modular setup and tool-based nature works more standardized and "globally". The TWI JI (Job Instruction) module provides a standard for training. In this way you avoid, for instance, overtraining, which there may be a tendency for in side-by-side training. TWI also includes systematic follow-up, which side-by-side learning does not focus on.
"We understand and learn in many different ways, and it is important to have a good sense of the learner's learning style when instructing as a trainer. The most basic principle of TWI is that we understand 'why' we do what we do, as it gives our employees a better understanding of the value they contribute to the process. If we understand 'why', we have a significantly deeper commitment and understanding of the process and the work," says Per Albrektsen.

Patient and long-term approach

Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion has chosen a patient and long-term rollout of TWI. "We want to do it right the first time, and therefore we first work with creating a solid and stable foundation," says Karen Stenholt.
Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion has visited Lego, which has worked with TWI for a number of years. Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion has worked out a communication plan that informs all affected parties in depth and detail during all phases of the rollout. The goal is for everyone to feel involved and well-informed so that everyone has a good idea of ​​why it is important that Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion uses TWI. In January 2014, Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion's Lean Office organized a conference with 50 key people who, for instance, participated in a two-hour live session that demonstrated the TWI concept in practice. At the conference, some time was also spent on describing the concerns that naturally often occur when introducing a new training concept such as TWI. The concerns were written on the board and put down on a list that Lean Office includes as an integral part of the work of rolling out TWI. At the conference, Novo Nordisk participated to hold a small lecture, and from here, the process that Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion runs was widely acknowledged. Novo stated that if they had run the same process, they could have avoided certain challenges during their process.

Great interest in becoming a trainer

The next and most important step in the TWI rollout has been the recruitment of the first eight TWI trainers among Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion's employees.
"There has been an overwhelming interest in our 'vacancies'. We received 41 applications for the eight roles and in January we conducted a thorough and comprehensive selection process where we conducted interviews and practical exercises with each individual applicant in order to identify the human qualities we sought. The applicants gave very positive reports about the serious process and felt well treated even if they were not selected this time. The eight selected job trainers are currently being trained, so they are well equipped to start the actual training of colleagues in August 2014," says Karen Stenholt.

"It's important for us to get started right away. We therefore put a lot of focus on involving both executives, workplace representatives and trade unions in the work. We also take the 'list of concerns' very seriously and organize workshops where we work targeted with the concerns of the various affected parties. We continuously inform all middle managers. The goal is that in August 2014 we will have a solid foundation for gradually expanding the TWI training method in our organization so that we get a systematic and effective training of all employees in our standards. Hopefully, it will lead to fewer work injuries and even higher production quality," says Per Albrektsen.

Expected results

Karen Stenholt and Per Albrektsen mention a few specific goals that they expect the TWI training to lay the foundation for:

  • 30 percent fewer occupational injuries compared to 2013
  • Improved stability at the production facility measured in run time
  • Even less air in mail containers so that capacity utilization gets higher and the CO2 strain gets lower
  • Even more focus on the customer throughout the value chain
  • Faster anchoring of changes and thus stabilization of processes

Systematic and human

It is evident that Karen Stenholt and Per Albrektsen are thrilled with the TWI concept. They talk a lot about it being "concrete, tangible and systematic" but at the same time it is also "motivational, acknowledging, based on human relationships and characterized by empathy". For example, they talk about how the goal of TWI is to "bring out the silent gold of the organization and the individual employees".
"The perspective is that we start with a few teams in August 2014 and gradually train more job trainers and roll out TWI even more. We confirm that the recommendation of having one trainer per 10 learners makes it possible to strengthen the relationship between the trainer and the learner. We have therefore just planned the training of 40 more trainers before the summer vacation. We believe that other parts of Post Danmark Pakkeproduktion may also be interested in adopting TWI when they see the results we get. One of the main principles of TWI is the very thorough and systematic training of trainers to ensure that the training method becomes second nature and that the training will not just become unstructured side-by-side learning," Karen Stenholt and Per Albrektsen say.