Specialty chemical producer Clariant believes that it is now on equal footing again with its competitors after a series of painful cutbacks. The Clariant Excellence Initiative, launched in 2009, forms the nucleus of an improvement process which extends to all areas of the corporation starting with production. PROCESS spoke with Dr. Michael Riedel, who is in charge of the Excellence Initiative, about the challenges created by the change process.
Clariant has gone through some tough times, but recent performance indicates that the specialty chemical maker is now back on track. CEO Hariolf Kottmann spoke about the current situation at last year’s analyst conference. The message was clear. Following restructuring and closure of 14 sites, Clariant is now focusing on the future and is doing everything in its power to work its way back into the top echelon. The change process launched at the end of 2009 is a key tool which Clariant is using to stay on course, and it will be extended to the entire corporation over the next few years.
“The four core elements of the Clariant Excellence Initiative are Operational Excellence, Commercial Excellence, Innovation Excellence and People Excellence,” explained Dr. Michael Riedel who is in charge of the worldwide program and who came to the impressive old headquarters building of recently acquired Süd-Chemie in Munich for the PROCESS interview.
While opening up his laptop, he outlined the underlying concept behind the initiative which is based on the Lean Sigma approach, a combination of the Lean Management philosophy and the statistical Six Sigma technique. The DMAIC cycle (Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control) provides the essential process framework. “The process is clearly structured and fully transparent from end to end,” claims Riedel.
As is the case with other chemical producers, Clariant began scrutinizing production at an early stage. As part of the Operational Excellence program, the decision was made to introduce a Clariant Production System which is designed to achieve across-the-board production process improvement.
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