A national newspaper and magazine wholesaler wanted to engage employees at all levels in business improvements

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The business

This newspaper and magazine wholesaler delivered over 7 million newspapers and magazines daily to over 22,000 newsagents and retailers. The company turned over £1.3 billion and employed more than 5,000 staff.

Their needs

The client wanted to engage employees at all levels to improve process performance with the objective of reducing operating costs throughout the value stream. No formal improvement programme existed so a deployment model had to be created for their specific needs.

How we helped

In order to commence structured improvement activity, a number of staff were released full time to create a central business improvement department. A series of project selection workshops were conducted to identify a prioritised list of relevant improvement opportunities which were confirmed by site visits to observe processes, engage key stakeholders and tailor the training material content to match client needs.
The selected practitioners and their department heads jointly attended Lean and Six Sigma Green Belt workshops with the aim of creating a knowledgeable management and support structure in advance of the wider business rollout. The central improvement team subsequently received further development to Black Belt level and delivered cross functional support and projects.
To accelerate the speed of change a series of 'Yellow Belt' workshops were delivered to mixed groups across the company, consisting of team leaders, depot, back office and contact centre managers who had direct involvement in project deployments. 
In addition to the larger cross-functional projects led by the improvement team, Yellow Belts delivered numerous smaller improvement projects within their own areas. This proved to be very successful, as it created an enthusiasm that brought about rapid change and enabled other employees to be directly involved in the practical application of improvement techniques to reduce operating costs.
The improvement philosophy was then extended to involve suppliers so that a collaborative working relationship across the entire value stream could be achieved. Representatives from all major newspaper publishers and magazine distributors attended workshops and, applying the model successfully used internally, improvement projects were implemented that benefited both our client and their suppliers. This initiative greatly improved collaboration and communication across the extended value stream.

Projects included:

• Improve newspaper packing efficiency
• Improve magazine packing output
• Reduction of claims
• Reduction of packaging and improvement of recycling
• Reduction of magazine scheduling time
• Reduce constraint request processing time
• Reduce cycle time to create over supplies report
• Improve night operation efficiency with less staff

Benefits achieved

Projects delivered have contributed greatly to reduced operating costs and achievement of performance targets.


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