Operational excellence as a trademark

Article written on 30 March 2021
Conversation with Thierry Handtschoewercker, Director of Industrial Operations and Supply Chain Saipol

Saipol’s factories have been organised to be more responsive to specific customer requests while respecting quality, safety and environmental requirements. Thierry Handtschoewercker, Director of Operations and Supply Chain, is supporting this repositioning: the emphasis is on speciality production and customised service.

Saipol - Usine Le Mériot

Flexibility is the key to operational excellence! It has guided the transformation of Saipol’s production system. Thierry Handtschoewercker, Saipol’s Director of Industrial Operations and Supply Chain, quickly identified the right levers to ensure that factories were in line with the 2023 strategic plan,  drawn up in 2017. The strategy based on volume is over, and the era of customer service has begun. The company must be able to produce small series as sales increase and no longer produce only commodities and then store them until they find a buyer. “The jobs haven’t changed, we’ve just changed the way we do them”, he explains.Everyone was involved in this mission.

The machine at the service of customers

Working differently also requires a different name. The Execution Division thus became the Sales Administration Division. “This development is very significant”, adds Thierry Handtschoewercker. “The operator is not a performer but a person at the service of the customers. ” In concrete terms, until 2017, Saipol manufactured a rapeseed methyl ester, made its own blend according to market demands and then the traders/salesmen took over to market it. From now on, the recipe is adapted to each contract in order to respond to an increasingly segmented market. The supply chain is much more flexible, and everyone’s mindset is different: “The customer asks me for a product, I manage the entire sale in accordance with his requirements he says.

A planning function has been created. The demand forecast covers twelve months and allows us to work in a funnel to arrive at the daily mesh. “This type of operation requires the teams to determine the future needs of customers and allows for more efficient management of all orders”. Another major development:  a dedicated business line for maritime and land transport was created. This transformation is essential to support our brands Oleo100, Feedmarket, OleoZE and the new solutions we are deploying.

Zero accident objective

The rethinking of the functioning of the production tool would not be complete without considering the control of risks for employees. Because, above and beyond the health of the employees, the image of the company is involved: “A company that has few, if any, injuries is a serious company that is doing well and working well”, says Thierry Handtschoewercker. In 2013, a safety plan was introduced by the Avril Group. Called “We care”, it aims to reduce the number of injuries per hour worked by 20% per year. Saipol aims for zero injuries. “After making good progress, we plateaued”, he adds.  To get the ball rolling again, the company will rely on the maximum involvement of its employees. “In their behaviour, everyone will have a more important role with regard to themselves and others”, emphasises Thierry Handtschoewercker. Additional means and resources will be deployed to support this progress. ” In addition, a major programme on industrial safety has been started in 2021 to achieve a level of excellence in this field.

thierry handtschoewercker

“Our daily objective: customer satisfaction while respecting quality, safety and environmental requirements. ”

Thierry Handtschoewercker, Operations and Supply Chain Director, Saipol