“Fate, bad luck, coincidence and chance are nothing. They are words we have invented to name the known effect of an unknown cause” – Voltaire.
If we are to believe the French writer and philosopher Voltaire, there’s no such thing as chance. Marc Dessein, managing director of Balta Home, thinks along these lines too. Marc says, “It’s important to take coincidence out of the system and to control processes.” Together with Accezz, Balta Home has certainly succeeded in this.
It can always be better!
Balta Home is a global player in machine-woven carpets. The company’s indoor and outdoor carpets are produced in a striking variety of designs, sizes and colours in weaving mills in Belgium and Turkey. Marc, who has been with Balta since 1992, shares a funny anecdote from many years ago: “Our first Dutch customer in the showroom talked about rugs. This caused some confusion, as we say carpets in Belgium. Other countries also use different terms. And tastes differ too, of course, so our product development teams closely follow international trends.” The collections are constantly being adapted to customers’ changing needs and desires in markets all over the globe. It’s a world that is in constant flux.
As it’s a challenging market environment, one of Balta Home’s strategic pillars is to continue focussing on operational excellence. Marc explains, “There’s always room for new initiatives to improve the company. You should never say ‘there is no better way’. Sometimes, you become blind to your own organisation and no longer see the possibilities. Bringing in a pair of fresh eyes can help you to keep focused because processes always have to be monitored critically. And the world around us continues to change.”
Coincidence out of the processes
With the help of Accezz, Balta Home removed ‘chance’ from processes in two of its factories in Waregem and Sint- Baafs-Vijve. “Accezz’s analysis showed that operational efficiency could be improved,” says Marc. “In addition to implementing the improvements, I also wanted to establish the link between product development and planning.” Accezz looked at this in great detail. Marc adds, “We now predict the performance of the factories every week in advance. We can, where necessary, swiftly change gears and make adjustments.
We have achieved our predefined results, so we are certainly satisfied. And all this with the people and resources we already had, with no need for extra investments.”
Efficiency and safety go hand in hand!
Accezz didn’t just look at efficiency. Safety was also an important theme for Marc: “You can’t create efficiency in an organisation without thinking about safety. That’s why a lot of attention was paid to 6S during the efficiency phase. We gave 5S, a programme for order and tidiness in the workplace based on lean principles, a 6th S for ‘safety’. Safety and efficiency are not opposing forces but mutually reinforce one another. There’s absolutely no choice here – it’s a plus-plus. Thanks in part to Accezz, safety has been fully embraced by our people on the shop floor too.”
Johan Lammens, production manager at Balta Home, says, “It’s not about going faster but about following the right path. In our case, safety is the number one priority on the agenda at all our work meetings.”
Attention to the human aspect
According to Marc, change is often a source of resistance. He explains, “With Accezz, we too went through the well-known dip in the change curve. It’s essential to get all parts of an organisation on board during a change process, not only production and factory management but also department heads, supervisors, shift leaders and employees on the shop floor. Accezz invested a lot in the human aspect. And that is extremely important. Our employees are very hard workers and a consultant must gain their trust. A good rapport has to be established for change implementation to succeed.” Johan added: “And it certainly succeeded!”
Marc states that it’s also important to strike the right balance throughout the learning process, so results are secured for the longer term. During the project, optimisation of process and management systems was supported by workshops and training courses.
In finishing, he says, “Securing the results has been a total success and the management system that was implemented is up and running smoothly in both factories. We leave almost nothing to chance now!”