Aglomerados Cotopaxi S.A. - ACOSA (Ecuador)
"Already in the first year applying Qualiplus' 360˚ Excellence we have reaped a 7:1 return on investment, and a gross margin increase of 40%."
“Aglomerados Cotopaxi S.A. (ACOSA) is the leading manufacturer of fiberwood boards in Ecuador since 1978, exporting its products to several countries. In 2004, ACOSA had already implemented several quality initiatives, including ISO 9000, with limited results, so the company found necessary to look for more advanced and systemic improvement methods, so we chose to implement the Qualiplus' 360° Excellence Model.
The first step was to construct a Current Reality Tree in order to clearly identify the main improvement focuses (business constraints) over which the company should concentrate its resources. That helped to define the first wave of Six Sigma improvement projects, with the purpose of improving plant’s production capacity. At that time we also revised ACOSA ideology (know-why), so that a clear vision was established, and we also identified the need to implement BMTP (Business Management Through Process) in order to break with the chronic lack of coordination and communication between areas and also to simplify our “Integrated Management System” which at that time was very bureaucratic and cumbersome. One of the four Six Sigma improvement projects in the first wave was particularly successful, since it allowed to break the company’s constraint through the optimization of a board coating machine parameters. The subsequent cycle time reduction broke a technical paradigm that had lasted for 25 years, and we got record levels of productivity (and sales). Since the original constraint was broken, new constraints appeared in other processes, which were tackled by a second wave of Six Sigma improvement projects, with very positive results, since it was possible to increase production capacity even further, without any investment.
In the following year, a new Current Reality Tree revealed the need to get a deeper understanding of our customer’s needs, so a VOC (Voice of the Customer) research was conducted, whose results clearly identified the need to reduce production lead-time, thus providing faster responses to the market. So a third wave of improvement projects was decided, using Lean methods and tools in order to improve our production logistics, with a radical change from production-to-forecast to inventory replenishment according to the “pull” from customers. Lead time dropped significantly, as well as inventory levels, with improved product availability.
Currently we have BMTP fully implemented, and that is the foundation for every improvement initiative we develop in ACOSA. We have standardized the use of TOC’s Thinking Process for identifying our company’s constraints and corresponding strategic plans. The success stories are numerous and quite consistent, as witnessed by increased customer satisfaction year after year. In terms of economical impact, already in the first year applying those systemic improvement methods we have reaped a 7:1 return on investment, and a gross margin increase of 40%. In summary, the 360° Excellence model has accelerated our organizational growth by means of high impact improvement projects, with tangible results for all of our stakeholders”. (Byron Solano, Organizational Development Manager, Aglomerados Cotopaxi S.A.)