Creating a sustainable business improvement performance culture at Ballance Agri-nutrients
Ballance Agri-Nutrients is a New Zealand farmer owned co-operative that manufactures and supplies fertilisers to enable farmers to achieve soil and animal nutrition productivity with a minimal environmental footprint.
Ballance has three main manufacturing sites which supply four distribution hubs which in turn supply 34 service centers and multiple consignment stores across the country. The Awarua site manufactures super-phosphate fertiliser products and also acts as a large distribution center for Invercargill and surrounds.
Ballance in its current form was created in 2001 but was historically made up of a number of regional fertiliser businesses. These operations had a range of experience in implementing continuous improvement systems including ISO 9001, TPM, QCDSM, and 5S. As a result, the approach was fragmented and whilst there were pockets of strong performance, this was not consistent across all operations. Productivity People was asked to assist with the creation and implementation of a company-wide Lean Management approach.
The approach was to develop and build a pilot implementation to prove the effectiveness of the Ballance Production System (BPS), the company’s Lean Management System. The Ballance Awarua site was selected as it had a process-driven culture from its previous experience of best practice implementation.
- The first step was the redevelopment of the existing Daily Management System into an integrated tiered process to enable it to effectively drive incremental improvement and support stable operations.
- The next step was to develop a framework for an operations-wide Lean Management System (BPS) that identified all the elements of best practice required to deliver best in class performance.
- Once the framework was defined, a gap analysis process was developed to identify the priorities on which to focus.
Based on the gaps identified focus was placed on the elements of the Ballance Production System which would deliver an improved performance through the involvement and engagement of the teams. Key areas of development included:
- Leader Standard Work
- Basic Care
- Operator Standard Work
- Structured Problem Solving
- Set Up Time Reduction
The Ballance Awarua site has since achieved significant improvement in all business metrics including the engagement score of the team which is the highest of all operations within the organisation.
The Ballance Production System is being rolled out across all areas of Operations and Supply Chain. The approach has been tailored and scaled to meet the needs of operations outside of core manufacturing including Distribution Hubs and Service Centers. The next stage will involve the development of a company-wide framework that will enable consistency of approach across all functions of the business.
At Awarua, we had implemented some lean tools over the years but hadn’t realised the benefits that we had hoped for. When Productivity People came on board, they brought a holistic approach and a great breadth of experience to enable us to implement a broader lean framework. This helped us focus on continuous improvement of KPIs across all aspects of our operations. There has since been a fundamental shift in site performance and culture for the better which has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the business and the site is now seen as a benchmark to aspire to.