Texturing Technology Limited is part owned by Tata Steel UK. A full service steel roll shop, it offers a diverse range of products and services to improve and enhance its customers’ operational performance. www.texturingtechnology.co.uk
Location: Port Talbot, Wales, UK
Industry: Steel roll surface engineering
Texturing Technology Limited (TTL) is part of the CORE Global Network of companies. Established in 1992 as a joint venture with Tata Steel UK, TTL has grown from a small chrome plating plant into a full service steel roll shop. Customers get personalized smaller company service as well as the technology leadership of a global network of companies.
Paul Burke was General Manager at TTL when the company introduced Vetter’s Online Suggestion System. An engineer by training, Paul is a self-confessed systematic thinker, and has always believed the people that know the most about a process or activity are the people doing the process or activity.
TTL’s business is very competitive. Paul realizes TTL must enlist everyone’s help to constantly look for ways to keep the company competitive. He instills in his managers and employees the importance of their involvement. One way they do that is to submit ideas for continuous improvement. Paul knows the best ideas don’t always come from the executive suite, but from people working on the shop floor.
“Vetter’s transparency is one of its greatest benefits and has encouraged and increased employee involvement.”
Prior to Vetter, workers typically submitted ideas through managers, but the system lacked structure and was neither as formalized nor effective as Paul wanted.
“Workers in company town hall meetings often complained that after they’d made a suggestion, they never heard what became of it—you never give us feedback.” Paul explains. The company lacked a system to keep workers apprised of ideas they submitted. The result, Paul says, was inevitable: workers, feeling their ideas weren’t that valuable or taken seriously, stopped contributing. He knew this had to be addressed and went looking for a solution.
After finding Vetter in his online searching, Paul “realized pretty quickly that Vetter could be really useful for us in bringing a process to something which pretty much didn’t have one.” He saw how Vetter keyed in on communication and participation—from idea solicitation to user rating, to full disclosure as an idea worked its way through the vetting/rating process. “Basically, we weren’t very good at giving the employees feedback on their ideas, and I immediately saw how that was at Vetter’s core.”
“The system was already good, and it’s even more user friendly today - it’s more intuitive and stickier.”
Vetter lets TTL employees use their phone or computer to enter an idea.
Once entered, the idea is visible to all participating employees, who can both comment and rate the idea (anonymously). Ideas often are improved by these comments. TTL employees can rate an idea on a scale of 1 to 5. Vetter can be used with or without the rating feature.
“I like the gamification angle” Paul says. Once people have submitted an idea, they’re curious and interested to see comments and ratings. “It’s like ‘likes’ on Facebook or Instagram. It really gets users involved. It’s sticky in the way a social media app is and keeps users involved.”
TTL uses the 1-5 rating scale. If member ratings average three or greater, the idea advances to the monthly committee meeting, attended by a union representative, a shop foreman, and executives. Those ideas are then judged by the cost to implement and impact or benefit to the company. If an idea scores highly enough in both categories, it’s implemented. If not, it is archived.
80% of the factory workforce has submitted an idea.
Vetter has got employee suggestions flowing again. “The thing I like about this online suggestion system scheme is that it’s very democratic because everyone who is a user can rate ideas, so it’s not like a hidden decision making system. It’s very open and transparent and everyone can rate and make a comment.”
Results from the monthly committee meeting are posted on the company’s Vetter idea suggestion system site for all to see. No more wondering what happened to the ideas you suggested. “Vetter’s made it so easy, we don’t even need to keep minutes anymore, we just make decisions and publish them right on the site.”
“Most ideas are in the area of safety, environmental, and quality improvement. All great improvements, but not easy to measure ROI.” Paul feels he could use many of Vetter’s ROI measuring capabilities to educate his users to think of ideas more in that vein.
“Support has been excellent. Compared to IT companies, or others, it’s really in the upper tier.”
“Vetter has been very responsive to product improvement suggestions over the years. Recent changes have even allowed me to completely scrap my hours-long use of a spreadsheet and pivot tables to dissect and analyse ideas. Now I can do it all within Vetter.”
Heather Saunders; ECITB Product Dev. Platform ManagerBook a Demo