Lean Act of the Year 2014 Aikawa Fibver Technologies Oy, 1st place

Lean Award

In 2014, the AFT was awarded the 1st prize in Lean Act of the Year competition, by Lean Association of Finland.
The explosive development of electronic communications and the significant decline in paper consumption have led to a major shift in the paper and pulp industry throughout the world.
In 2009, as a result of the global recession, the situation of AFT Oy in Varkaus was further aggravated.
The mills were closed in the main market area of ​​AFT Oy in Europe and production concentrated more strongly on Asia.
The new manufacturing technology and the adaptive, lower cost structure were unable to achieve sufficient turnover and meet the company’s profitability challenges.

AFT’s product structure is already competitive, as is manufacturing technology, but investing in technology alone is not enough to improve profitability and competitiveness.
Operational processes need to be more customer-centric and more profitable by removing waste elements more efficiently.
Tradition for production is long and old and operating models from the time after the war are still in our business culture.
It is now time to question them radically.
We are no longer able to respond to customer needs and order sizes with previous operating models, even if we’d run faster. ”Good old times” with jobs on offer won’t return either.

We started to question our old operational philosophy with the Lean project.
We set the goal of getting a faster, more reliable and more flexible production model and to achieve it we started AFT -Flows! -project.
The order-to-supply chain shifted from resource efficiency to flow efficiency with the help of entire personnel.
The change was radical.
We moved from push to pull control and to 1 piece controlled production flow.
We renewed the layout of the office completely and partly also the layout of our production.
Profitability, delivery times and security of supply have improved considerably in line with the targets and unfinished production has been at least halved.

AFT -Flows! was a pilot project for our main product.
The goal was to significantly improve our lead times, the security of supply and guarantee the best delivery times on the market.
These are important success factors for us, that help us to respond to competition and to changing customer needs.
The pilot project is now successfully behind us and everything was done without increasing staff capacity and without bigger investments.
The process of change has been started.
We believe in our products and believe in our own business. In Finland, it is still possible to make production sustainable and profitable.
The change in our approach has shown a tremendous development potential and a whole new direction.
It’s time to make wise moves, with continuous improvement!

Antti Kettunen, Chief Executive Officer, Aikawa Fiber Technologies Oy

Lean Award