In 1994 Can-Pack SA was a small Polish beverage can maker competing with huge international beverage can manufacturers on the strength of low labour costs, difficult orders and short runs. But the company’s management realised that the advantage
of lower labour rates wouldn’t last for ever.
Can-Pack was a trusted supplier to SABMiller’s Kompania Piwowarska in the early 2000s. On the manufacturing side, SAB (as it was then known) was implementing TRACC, and Can-Pack, wanting to create a competitive edge, decided to follow suit. In 2002 it embarked on a WCM pilot at its beverage can plant in Brzesko, near Kraków, Poland.
From its first production site in Brzesko, a second production site was opened in Bydgoszcz in Northern Poland. Once the company mastered operating more than one site it was ready for international expansion. The next plant was commissioned near Kiev in Ukraine and the fourth in Bucharest, Romania. Dubai was the first plant outside Europe, followed by India shortly afterwards - the first global aluminium can producer to enter India. The two most recent sites opened in the UK and Russia. A few more plants have been constructed or planned, but the locations are still under wraps. On the back of the successful pilot, the WCM programme was rolled out to other European operations.
Today Can-Pack’s annual revenue is about $1,5 billion and plans are to double this revenue in three years. Its product range includes: aluminium two-piece beverage cans, steel three-piece food and general line cans, glass bottle crown caps and beverage/food glass containers. The company’s core aluminium can division, responsible for about 75% of its business, grows organically, not through acquisitions.
How did an unknown company manage to expand so successfully in such a highly competitive business market?
This is a capital-intensive business. Utilising assets is very important. Also, raw materials are a considerable cost (50-60%),
so minimising waste levels is crucial. Customer requirements are exacting and growing. Management set clear goals for the WCM implementation:
- increase the company’s operational efficiency
- achieve stable and predictable results
- build a base for intensive future growth
- increase involvement from top to bottom
- achieve the highest quality organisational standards
- achieve financial results 25% better than the comparable industry average
Implementation at the pilot line demonstrated remarkable results. The Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) percentage went up from 65 to 82 in less than two years [See graph]. This result turned out to be sustainable and has improved subsequently. Also, waste levels have been reduced considerably. All this made the company’s results significantly better than those of competitors - this is Can-Pack’s competitive edge.
On top of the clear financial, quantitative results, the following benefits were also observed:
- A higher awareness level of market requirements at all organisational levels
- A lean and effective organisation
- Improved communication throughout the company
- Ownership of the process at all levels, resulting in a higher level of involvement and boosting employees’ creativity
TRACC is being implemented at each site with implementation commencing any time between one to two years after the plant
has been commissioned. Overall, Can-Pack achieved the WCM programme goals because:
- Financial results are consistently better than the industry average
- The company generates enough cash to finance its own expansion
- Product and customer service levels are at the highest level
- Can-Pack is the largest beverage can maker in Central and Eastern Europe and the fourth largest in Europe
WCM is now an integral part of the company’s operational strategy. Looking into the future, Can-Pack is expected to grow fast. Further people development is required, because entering new markets may require specific knowledge and qualifications. But for now the focus is on developing and implementing process supporting systems.
It can be safely said that the WCM-based production strategy gave Can-Pack its competitive edge and so was one of the key enablers of its growth and global expansion.