Less than two years after its start-up, the results of the “Lean Agile” project, implemented by Sirmax Group thanks to the collaboration with Considi, a Vicenza-based consulting company specializing in 4.0, Lean production, improvement strategy, management and business organization, are already tangible and concrete. The project has revolutionized Sirmax's research and development department, changing its internal organization model to promote the implementation of increasingly innovative products and processes.
Since spring 2020, Sirmax Group, a company based in Cittadella (Padua, Italy) specializing in the production of polypropylene compounds, engineering plastics, post consumer compounds and bio-compounds for a wide range of applications, has applied an internal management system aimed at optimizing innovation processes. Existing management practices have been reconsidered to not only increase production efficiency, but also to increase innovation activities, with the aim of designing materials able to anticipate market trends, also from the point of view of sustainability.
For this purpose, a specific model developed by Considi has been applied, recording significant improvements: 12 months after the launch of the Lean Agile system, the productivity of research and development resources increased by 20% (calculated as the ratio between the number of samples and prototypes with a positive outcome and the number of innovation and development resources).
The process involves starting from an idea - for example, an innovative antibacterial plastic or a new compound suitable for contact with food - and understanding whether the market may like the product through data analysis and commercial comparisons. Development and production times are then studied, and the cost and financial feasibility are calculated. Finally, adaptability to customer requirements is considered. This is a much shorter process than those used in the past.
"Sirmax has grown over the years thanks to the excellence of its products and its ability to grasp the evolution of the market. Now we must change course, adopt a new approach, and reverse the process: today we must focus on strategic, concrete and innovative projects. It is therefore extremely important to select the right ideas and quickly transform them into innovative and sustainable solutions”, explained Massimo Pavin (picture below), Sirmax Group president and CEO.
This does not mean applying a repetitive and standardized process, but rather an agile organization model in which new creative ideas and a rigorous process schemes merge to allow for faster, more punctual proposal development.
“Everything started with Massimo Pavin’s idea to completely redesign the organizational structure of the company's R&D department with the aim of increasing market response speed while simultaneously intercepting different opportunities with new high-tech applications. Based on this input, Considi has designed an extremely dynamic structure in which different areas interact with each other in a proactive flow”, added Gianni Dal Pozzo, CEO of Considi.
More specifically, the Opportunity to Market department created within Sirmax is divided into three areas: Strategic Marketing, which deals with the collection and analysis of market data and the launch of new products; Innovation, which is responsible for long-term projects, i.e. the most innovative and far-reaching projects originating from the decisions of a committee; Development, which works with short- and medium-term projects, i.e. those supported by commercial requests.
The Opportunity to Market, commercial and supply chain functions contribute to creating new customers and products for Sirmax through the Innovation Committee, a coordination mechanism placed at the intersection of the three departments, which has an overview of all projects, coordinates their progress, and markets them through strategic marketing activities.
The task of examining projects - which previously fell to the R&D department - is now carried out through a web-based portfolio management tool produced by Considi called “Swirl”, a term that evokes a constant and continuous vortex of evolving ideas. The tool makes it possible to manage all the different processes and their feasibility from an economic and financial point of view, ensuring that everyone is aware of the progress and production flow of the products. Everyone can contribute to the projects with ideas, everything is programmed, and data is immediately and clearly available.
"With the same number of staff and by reallocating resources in a more balanced way, the Lean Agile project increases speed and efficiency. Until now, the company received requests from the market and fulfilled them by customizing them according to the client’s needs. Now it is also able to optimize its proactivity by suggesting new products of its own design to be put on the market, increasing quality, innovation, and sustainability", concluded Dal Pozzo.