Developed based on the principles of lean production, AMPS is a common platform that Hydro has to work with continuous improvement. The system proved to be essential in difficult times, such as the global financial crisis that caused the price of aluminum to drop from $ 3,000 to $ 1,300 per ton in less than a year.
“AMPS was launched in 2007, when aluminum prices were still quite high,” explains Per Holdoe, director of AMPS at Metal Primário. "But in late summer 2008, prices fell dramatically," he says.
“In a situation like this, it would have been tempting to leave AMPS aside and appeal to consultants who would simply lead us to cost cuts, but Metal Primário's direction was firm, knowing that AMPS would be the way through the turbulent waters that approached and that the entire organization should be involved in the improvement work - a clear sign of determination and vision. ”
AMPS is based on five principles:
• Standardized work processes
• Defined customer and supplier relationships
• Flow optimization
• Specialized teams
• Visible leadership
All principles have tools and guidelines that encourage best practices in Hydro's primary metal operations.
Although some of the elements of the AMPS principles and tools are used separately, Holdoe points out that the integration of the five elements is the key to Hydro's success in lean methods.
"It was important for us to see the interconnections between all aspects of our production environment, from production processes and systems to management, as these aspects are mutually dependent and essential to the results," he explains.
The results of the Lean Operations survey confirm Hydro's success in addressing different aspects in this way.
"We realized that Hydro and its AMPS system highlighted the human aspect of the lean method much more strongly than international reference cases. While others had an almost exclusive focus on rationalization, logistics and cuts, Hydro was able to include the organizational aspect, teamwork and visible leadership, ”says Jonas A. Ingvaldsen, associate professor at NTNU and researcher at Sintef Raufoss Manufacturing.
AMPS was one of the main drivers of the “300 Dollars” improvement program, concluded in 2013 at Hydro's wholly-owned foundry plants. The result was a reduction of approx. NOK 1.5 billion in annual costs since the program began in 2008. Recently, a new program has been launched at Hydro's joint smelting plants, with a view to a reduction of $ 180 per ton of aluminum produced.
In addition to the focus on human and technical aspects of improvement in Hydro's primary metal operations, it also focused on further involving operators in decision-making processes and the results of which can be seen in the last Hydro Monitor survey.
"We saw a positive correlation between the implementation of AMPS and the various indicators of employee engagement. Employees report a clear understanding of their role and the purpose of their tasks in a broader context, as well as a greater sense of involvement, ”says Holdoe.
Research and continuous improvement
Despite the positive results of Hydro Monitor, a flat organizational structure also poses some challenges, Ingvaldsen says:
"We realized that AMPS deviates from a leaner, more hierarchical original concept, by removing supervisors of work shifts. Although AMPS has enabled greater employee engagement, it also creates challenges for team decision making. Therefore, this is one of the areas that we recommend prioritizing in continuous improvement work in the future. " /> & nbsp;
And the development of Hydro managers is exactly one of Hydro's priorities below.Holdoe explains how this theme coincides with one of the basic concepts of continuous and lean improvement.
"Working with AMPS is an endless story,” he says. “Continuous improvements involving all employees are essential if we are to build and maintain preferred cultures and practices in our company.”
In addition to internal improvement efforts, Hydro will continue to participate in research lean practices. And later this year, Hydro will share its experiences on how Norway's improvement platform is compatible with other international cultures in which Hydro has joint companies.