CASE STUDY Turnround at the Preston plant13
‘Before the crisis, production monitoring was done to please the client, not for problem-solving. Data readouts were brought to production meetings and we would all look at then, but none of us were looking behind the data.’ (Chief Operating Officer (COO), Preston plant)
The Preston plant was located in Preston, Vancouver. Precision-coated papers for specialist printing uses accounted for the majority of the plant’s output. The plant used state-of-the-art coating machines that allowed very precise coatings to be Applied to bought-in rolls of paper. After coating, the coated rolls were cut into standard sizes.
The curl problem
In the spring of 2008, Hewlett-Packard (the plant’s main customer) informed the plant of problems it had encountered with paper curling under conditions of low humidity. There had been no customer complaints. HP’s own personnel had noticed the problem, but they took the problem seriously. Over the next eight months the plant’s Production staff worked to isolate the cause of the problem and improve systems that monitored processing metrics. By January 2009 the process was producing acceptable product, yet it had not been a good year for the plant. Although volumes were buoyant, the plant was making a loss of around $10 million a year. In October 2008, Tom Branton was appointed as COO.
Slipping out of control
Although the curl problem was solved, productivity, scrap and re-work levels w