Siemens Building Technologies’ Lean Product Development Journey
Siemens Building Technologies is a part of the German multinational conglomerate Siemens AG. It is one of the world’s leading companies in building automation, fire safety, and building security, with its headquarters in Zug, Switzerland.
In order to retain its competitive position and to improve efficiency, the company launched the Lean Product Development initiative in 2010 and has come a long way since. The main expectation of the lean thinking implementation was to be more productive, enabling teams to reduce waste in all their daily activities and enable cross-functional collaboration with lean tools in all R&D projects.
This blog will provide insights into the different lean practices Siemens Building Technologies has implemented in the product development process using the Lean Innovation Model developed by the Lean Analytics Association (LAA) to discover and diffuse successful industrial cases and recently published in the Lean Product Development Best Practices Book.
Although lean in manufacturing was implemented much earlier as part of the Siemens Production System, in product development the lean journey started in 2010 when an official kick-off was carried out to increase awareness. Coaching support from external consultants started the same year focusing on training dedicated staff. As a first step, pilot projects were launched showing first benefits and reducing the skepticism for lean improvements. Pilot projects were carefully selected to ensure they were challenging but not too risky to ensure quick hits and implementations could be obtained successfully in one to two years.
In line with the first pilot projects, awareness training began at the headquarters in Zug for all employees. Training was spread globally and implementation of projects started in selected global sites. Projects have been continuously defined and launched.
Through its journey, Siemens Building Technologies established best practices in several aspects of Lean Product Development. These practices were identified and structured according to the four building blocks of the Lean Innovation Model. Below are just some of the best practices identified and described in Siemens Building Technologies’ chapter of the Lean Product Development Best Practices Book recently published.
1) STRATEGY AND PERFORMANCE
The company followed a bottom-up approach focusing first on the individuals to implement Lean Thinking in R&D projects to achieve strong engagement by all employees. To support the deployment of the lean PD strategy, three key roles were defined:
- Global Lean Coach – Engage employees to implement lean thinking in R&D globally. Coordinate the program. Provide and maintain methodology and toolbox. Roll out the training sessions and motivate local lean coaches and all employees to use the tools.
- Local Lean Coach – Enable lean thinking implementation at their own site. Listen to the local challenges and support local teams to define, document and communicate their lean projects in R&D.
- Teams – Groups of employees focusing on specific Lean Product Development practices, methods, and tools.
2) SKILLED PEOPLE AND COLLABORATION
Aligned to the goal of implementing lean at all levels, Siemens Building Technologies developed a model to roll out specific training to develop competencies for all the employees, lean coaches, and management:
- All employees are trained on Lean Awareness training lasting 2.5 hours introducing lean thinking and encouraging them to use principles for their own R&D activities.
- Selected leading employees are invited to become lean coaches and attend a three-day training session; specifically in-depth explanations of the tools
- Employees in managerial positions are invited to attend a one-day session to understand the lean principles and their impact on their business.
3) EFFICIENT PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS AND KNOWLEDGE-BASED ENVIRONMENT
Value Stream Mapping sessions are held to identify the current state or plan future state; a classification of waste has also been provided to all employees as a guidance to potential improvements in time, cost, and quality.
Kanban Boards are used regularly to create transparency on work status. Thereby work-in-progress is limited to assure flow in the process. Daily Stand-ups are used also to track performance and identify problems on a daily basis.
One of the key efforts was to identify tools that can support all levels on their daily activities. The vision was not to deploy too many tools but to concentrate on few that could be easily applied to solve product development challenges quickly and in a collaborative way.
4) CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT AND CHANGE
Siemens Building Technologies continuously communicates internally why Lean Thinking is an important practice to maintain company’s competitiveness. Posters are designed and placed in different locations highlighting the key concepts and definitions. Another important practice developed in Siemens is to enable knowledge sharing by creating a very simple template to document the lean projects’ before and after results.
Siemens Building Technologies’ Best Practices are presented and described on more than 30 pages in the Lean Product Development Best Practices book. Siemens Building Technologies’ chapter is only one out of the 10 chapters presenting the real-world application of lean product development in multinational companies.
The hard copy of the book with the 10 cases is available for only 74.99 EUR.
Siemens Building Technologies’ Lean Product Development case is available digitally free or charge to our members.
Interested to become a member?
About the Authors
Lean Analytics Association
Dr. Flores has over 20 years of experience collaborating as internal or external consultant in different manufacturing and services organizations, leading several initiatives related to Lean Thinking, Business Process improvement, Six Sigma, Supply Chain, Change Management, Open Innovation, Digital Transformation and Human Centered Service Design; providing also training and coaching.
She is co-founder and president of the Lean Analytics Association (LAA) and visiting scholar at the College of Management of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.
She carried out her Post-doc at EPFL collaborating at the Lean Product and Process (LeanPPD) FP7 European project from 2009 to 2013. She completed her PhD in 2006 at the Politecnico di Milano studying Open Innovation Models to enable Industry-University collaboration for innovation. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Systems in 1999 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Monterrey Tec (ITESM) in 1996
Siemens Building Technology
Pascal Iten graduated at the Department of Management, Technology and Economics at ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), followed up with consultancy at Andersen Consulting (today “Accenture”). He went back to the ETH to write a PhD in the subject “Knowledge management in the innovation process”. Next he worked as a product manager and head of quality management operations at ESEC SA and as senior consultant at ERNI Switzerland in the subject of processes and quality. After setting up and managing a project office for R&D, Pascal is now working as a lean development expert and coach for the CPS business unit at Siemens Building Technology in Zug, Switzerland.
Lean Analytics Association
Doroteja has 3 years of experience working on lean product development with background in mechanical engineering and ultra-precision technologies. She has worked with global organizations from various industrial sectors, either leading or supporting the development and introduction of bespoke lean innovation and new product development solutions.
Doroteja is interested in innovation capability development and over the past years she has developed several training courses to support organizations achieving quick and efficient knowledge transfer through customized simulated sessions. Being a certified Service Design Thinking Facilitator she believes in “Doing, not speaking” and supporting developments of truly customer-centric products and services.
Doroteja is a co-author of the Lean Product Development Best Practices book, and conference publications.