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By Daniëlla van Laarhoven
In the past year, NTS changed the structure of its divisions because of its incessant growth. Organized in business lines in which dedicated multidisciplinary teams work for specific customers according to clearly defined KPIs, the company continuously improves its services. Working with his team for NTS’ largest client in the semiconductor industry, Ruud Kuepers is seeing the first promising results.
When the structure of NTS’ Mechatronics division changed, my position changed as well. After having fulfilled the role of customer service executive, I was promoted to the role of business line manager. In the past, I used to connect people in the best way I could to offer the customer the best possible support. Now, I manage a team that works dedicatedly for one specific client according to a clear structure.
Within the Mechatronics division, there are now five business lines. Three of them work for one specific client. An analysis I’ve made over the last few months shows that we make an enormous number of large, critical modules and a great diversity in products and components. This diversity demands tight control.
Some of the components are customized. That means little structure and routine. Each day we produce various unique items. The main challenge is in the supply chain – 85 percent of the parts we need come from suppliers. All of the parts need to be delivered in time, according to specifications and with the right quality.
My team consists of employees from different disciplines such as three buyers, a team lead, a quality assurance officer, three technical support professionals, nineteen cleanroom mechanics and three persons for logistics. To work as efficiently as possible, we use a clear structure. We start our day with a meeting based on the SQDC boards (Safety, Quality, Delivery and Cost), a daily process management tool that helps us plan the day.
Sales isn’t a direct part of my team. I speak to them on a daily basis, however, discussing the course of events and our strategy. Periodically, we talk about the roadmap. Besides this, we see to it that everyone knows what’s going on. In this way, we can focus on the right issues and make sure that the clients are always spoken to correctly and unambiguously.
The new organizational structure is an absolute improvement. We see that people like working as a team on achieving mutual goals. Having a mutual goal and being successful together is extremely motivating, resulting in greater job satisfaction.
It enables people to directly make improvements. It also reduces the frustration of those who feel something isn’t arranged properly. On the one hand, they can address topics and on the other hand, they experience why others make different choices because of their expertise. This creates a mutual understanding. Moreover, it results in very good new ideas.
A good example is what we’re working on at the moment: redesigning a cleanroom. The logistics expert wants to realize the most optimized workflow to work as efficiently as possible, the cleanroom employee considers his own work satisfaction and wants to sit closer to his colleague and the person responsible for the technology thinks about how we can work as cleanly as possible and achieve the highest quality.
It’s then my responsibility to challenge my team members to come up with the best solutions together and make the final decision. I wasn’t authorized to do so in my previous position but I am now and that’s nice.
Customer satisfaction is our main priority. It forms the basis for our KPIs. Subjects we take into consideration include: delivering in time, dealing with our supplier network, risk management and supply chain strategy. This is the focus of our Mechatronics division.
We introduced the customer to our new way of working, we informed them of what was going to change and of how we were going to make the changes. In the business line, there’s now an enormous KPI board that gives insight into our goals and progress. Very transparent – our customer likes that as well. At a glance, we can see exactly how we’re doing.
We define KPIs for a period of three months. Each week, our team stands in front of the KPI board to see whether we’re on track. My personal goal is to reach a performance of 98 percent. All improvements are displayed specifically and when we lag on a specific topic, we work extra hard on it. We celebrate our successes together. Recently, we ate cake when our quality performance had improved considerably.
Changing the organizational structure was necessary because of the growth of NTS. It enables us to keep our focus on our customers. And it works – after three months already, the customer noticed the positive effects. Because of the new way of working and the fact that we’re physically in the same room, our reaction time is faster, we deliver better quality and we know what’s going on at a detailed level.