Flexibility helps JIT at L’Oréal
L’Oréal cosmetics is now the world’s largest toiletries and cosmetics group, with a presence in over 140 different countries. In the UK, the 45 000 square metre purpose-built facility in mid-Wales produces 1300 product types in a spotlessly clean environment, which is akin to a pharmaceutical plant in terms of hygiene, safety and quality. The plant has 55 production lines and 45 different production processes, and the manufacturing systems employed are of a flexibility that allows them to run each of the 1300 product types every two months – that means over 150 different products each week. But the plant was not always as flexible as this. It has been forced to enhance its flexibility by the requirement to ship over 80 million items each year. The sheer logistics involved in purchasing, producing, storing and distributing the volume and variety of goods has led to its current focus on introducing JIT principles into the manufacturing process.
To help achieve its drive for flexibility and for JIT production, L’Oréal organized the site into three production centres, each autonomous and focused within technical families of products. Their processes and production lines are then further focused within product sub-divisions. Responsible for all the activities within his area, from pre-weighing to dispatch, is the Production Centre Manager, whose role also encompasses staff development, training and motivation. Within the focused production centres, improvement groups have been working on improving shop-floor flexibility, quality and efficiency. One of the projects reduced the setup times on the line which produces hair colourants from 2.5 hours to only eight minutes. These new changeover times mean that the company can now justify even smaller batches, and may give the company the flexibility to meet market needs just-in-time. Prior to the change in setup time, batch size was 30 000 units; now batches as small as...
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