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– Utilise optimisation potentials methodically

The increasingly dynamic markets constantly provides companies with ever different and new challenges. This means that organisational structures and processes – even if they were ideally fitted to the requirements at a given time – need to be questioned repeatedly. It is necessary to look for bottlenecks and problematical areas and to assess and eliminated found weak spots. For the consultants of REFA International AG, the weak-spot analysis, together with their profound experience and their outstanding knowledge of industry, is the instrument of first choice.

Without transparency no optimisation

Before weak spots can be eliminated, they have to be identified. This makes it necessary to capture and investigate the current situation with all its work processes within the company. The analysis identifies open and hidden weak spots, tight spots and „bottlenecks“ within processes, gaps in the communication and wastages. Reasons for the identified weak spot are determined and a catalogue of measures for the elimination of errors and wastages is created. By implementing the measures the gaps in communication are closed, capacity bottlenecks reduced and the processes will be improved overall. Regular weak spot analyses systematically secure the functionality of the value added process. Unnecessary resource losses and higher costs can thus be avoided. Process optimisations triggered by weak spot analyses therefore make an important contribution to insure the future competitiveness of the company.

Categories of weak spots

Every process can be analysed and evaluated in many ways. Which feature is particularly looked at, depends on the current focus of the company. Three categories of weak spots can be distinguished:

  • Process quality

This category comprises all weak spots responsible for the fact that a process does not adequately fulfil its purpose and that given targets are not met. Insufficient process quality shows in high error rates, bad output quality (scrap rate) as well as susceptibility to flaws or risk of failure in the processes due to a high rate of disturbances or high maintenance needs.

  • Process time

Long throughput times show up weak spots in the processes. The throughput time is a sum of all used times for each process step such as process times, transport times, resting times, waiting times and set-up times. Another indication for weak spots is an insufficient deadline reliability and frequent delays.

  • Process costs

Process costs are dependent upon personnel expenditure, the usage of machines and plants, error rates, levels of efficiency of energy- and material consumption, the maintenance needs or the usage of space and equipment.

In order to recognise weak spots indicators are normally defined as key figures, which are used to measure the performance of a process. A weak spot and therefore an optimisation potential exists when the measured value of the key figure differs from the target rate.

Methods of weak spot analysis

For the weak-spot analysis, various methods are used:

Most often classic checklists are used, which allow the examination of known error patterns. The error patterns are based on experiences of similar processes and procedures.

In order to recognise thought and construction mistakes in a system, a structured analysis is used particularly in IT and especially in the software development.

The SWOT analysis is suitable not only to show weaknesses, but strengths in a process as well.

For the development of new processes, the Ishikawa diagram, in which cause and effect of production sequence scenarios are compared, is readily used.

REFA International AG is a leading consulting house in the areas of REFA-Consulting, Lean-consulting and global consulting. The focus of these consulting areas is always the optimisation of business processes, as much in production, set up processes, maintenance and logistics, as in the areas of administration and service. Central instrument of all optimisation activities is the weak spot analysis.

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