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Lean PD Best Practices: CMI Defence

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CMI Defence is a part of the CMI Group (Cockerill Maintenance & Ingénierie) which is an international technology and service provider, specialized in several different industrial sectors including defense.

Being a growing organization means there is a need for continuous improvement if this growth is to be sustained. CMI Defence recognized that need and embarked on its improvement journey in 2013 using the lean product development approach. Its objective was and still is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its product development processes.

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CMI Defence is a part of the CMI Group (Cockerill Maintenance & Ingénierie) which is an international technology and service provider, specialized in several different industrial sectors including defense. As one of the world’s leading companies, CMI Defence’s mission is to achieve total customer satisfaction by providing solutions of the ultimate standard. It specializes in integration and design of gun and turret systems and provides customized technical and training assistance as well as innovative solutions relating to its weapon systems.

Being a growing organization means there is a need for continuous improvement if this growth is to be sustained. CMI Defence recognized that need and embarked on its improvement journey in 2013 using the lean product development approach. Its objective was and still is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its product development processes.

The starting point of the CMI Defence’s journey was an activity called “lean set-up”, which aimed at producing a strategic roadmap for the implementation of different lean enablers. This resulted in systematic development, implementation and roll-out of several smaller improvement initiatives such as set-based concurrent engineering (SBCE), A3 thinking for problem-solving, flexible project management, the development of a “lean mindset” across the engineering department and many more.

In the past, CMI Defence used an engineered-to-order (ETO) system to develop new products, due to the high complexity and individuality of their solutions. However, it takes a long time for a product to be engineered to order and with customers demanding their products in shorter and shorter times, CMI Defence decided to move from ETO to a system closer to configure to order (CTO). Their approach is the development and implementation of a platform design in combination with SBCE. While SBCE can ensure a high level of innovativeness, a platform design can provide common parts and modules in order to reduce the time to market. Yet, this constitutes a very complex approach and, as such, it requires highly skilled people in order to realize and maximize its potential. For that reason, CMI Defence invests heavily in the training and education of its management and engineering teams. The teams often attend one-day conferences and workshops, courses with world-renowned lean product development specialists, and also more unconventional trainings, such as learning by using serious games, which are fun and engaging and therefore, often yield more impressionable and better results.

Last but not least, one of the CMI Defence’s best practices is the use of visual management techniques (iObeya) and flexible project management. These techniques are used on all their larger projects and have a large contribution to CMI Defence’s improvement in coordination and employee satisfaction.

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