Interview Switzerland: Entrepreneurial Innovation Marathon
Dixi Polytool is one of the biggest tool manufacturers in Switzerland. In the last three years the company organized an innovation marathon. MM Switzerland spoke to Marc Schuler, CEO of Dixi Polytool.
You have completely restructured your company in the last three years. What was the motivation behind it?
Marc Schuler: That’s right, we completely restructured Dixi Polytool to Lean Manufacturing. The focus was on higher economic efficiency because the international competition was getting stronger. The exchange rate situation must be especially noted here. We always talk about 15th January 2015. But the problem started back in 2009. In 2008 the Euro cost 1.60 CHF, in August 2011 one franc till the national bank intervened and fixed it to 1.20 CHF. Our decision to introduce Lean Manufacturing was a decision that was taken long before the decision of the Swiss National Bank on the 15th January.
Do you see any further aspects?
Thanks to our newly organized company structure we can implement excellent risk management to deal with severe impacts related to currency or recession. With our new organizational structure we can also give importance to customer requests. The keywords here are shortened development periods, production and delivery periods of special tools, and immediate delivery capacity of standard tools.
Which changes did you make overall? What was the focus of restructuring the company?
The goal was to change the entire production so far from a non-networked cell production to a complete, fully networked workflow. Planning and organizing these new production flows took approximately one year. In the beginning we had excellent support from a specialized consulting firm. The longer the project took, the more we took over the management of the project internally.
And how was the practical implementation?
From the second year we controlled the machines according to the new workflow. In our 6000m² production hall all the machines were newly assigned. The challenge was to minimize any effect on the production as far as possible during all the machine relocations. It was an extremely demanding task for the logistics department
How were the processes optimized?
During the project many indicators were defined to check process optimization. Today all the company processes are precisely measured at Dixi Polytool. Hence comparisons can be implemented in a transparent way immediately, oriented towards the future. We don’t work according to “instinct”anymore. The investment in time and money in such a project is very big, mainly if it has to be done without any compromise as we are doing it.