Scania: Listening to customers and employees

The company continually improves its manufacturing processes through the Scania Production System, developed by company personnel. Like Toyota’s, Scania’s system expects every employee to take responsibility for identifying bottlenecks and other inefficiencies and to come up with ideas for improvement. Every Scania plant around the world employs identical production methods. When workers at one factory come up with a proposal for improvement, the company promptly evaluates the idea, tests it, and, if it holds up, disseminates it throughout the system.

Scania has recently extended this philosophy to its service and distribution network through the Scania Retail System (SRS). “SRS efforts permeate all operations,” says the company in an article on the system. “One example of improvements is opening up the workshop environment so that work processes flow better. For instance, while performing one particular type of service, studies showed that a technician walks 3.5 kilometres and climbs down into the lube pit 14 times. Moving the most frequently used tools and parts closer improves the service technician’s working environment while freeing up more billable hours.” 

Scania also expanded its modular production process, an approach the company started using more than 50 years ago. Instead of introducing new vehicle models, the company focuses on improving the components of existing models. The company also tries to use similar parts in its trucks, buses and taxi cabs. This tactic allowed the company to reduce the number of components in its vehicles, and increase productivity at its factories.

The company’s customers have lauded Scania’s modular production because it allows them to customize vehicles and upgrade parts without buying new models. If a client needs a truck with an aerodynamic roof, Scania can provide one without having to create a new model. Repairs are faster because the components are easy to find.

Scania has also decided that feedback from truck drivers through dealers is too slow and imperfect for adequate learning and adaptation. So it has put in place methods to talk directly to truck drivers on a continuous basis, with a pledge to address easy-to-fix problems in 10 days and full capture of feedback for longer-term modification. The adoption of this direct loop has helped Scania transition its product introductions from a batch system to a continuous improvement system.