In order to improve its efficiency, and the quality of service customers receive, RS Components keeps moving in a Continuous Improvement culture

At RS Components, Continuous improvement (CI) is driven by leaders at all levels of the business, helping teams to collaborate and improve processes for our customers. CI supports RS employees to solve problems daily.

RS has developed its own CI programme, benchmarked against some of the best around the world, and is pushing hard to embed this culture into every element of its business. “Continuous improvement is hugely important to RS & the Electrocomponents group,” says Keith Gautrey-Prue, Director for Group Continuous Improvement at Electrocomponents. “It’s all about creating the right mindset, skillsets and toolsets. CI is not extra work, but the way we work.”

The RS CI programme uses Lean Six Sigma as a toolset but draws upon a range of methodologies, including lean thinking, operational excellence, theory of constrains and systems thinking, to create a more contingent approach. “By using a combination of the right toolsets and methodologies,” says Gautrey-Prue, “we make sure we solve problems rather than just fixing the presenting problem or passing the problem on to another part of the business.”

To ensure that the CI philosophy is embedded across the organisation, RS has a team of CI professionals who sit in every area of the business to offer guidance and support with building pipelines of value-stream improvements. The same experts also work closely with the leadership teams to further assist the move to becoming a CI organisation.

Furthermore, RS places a strong emphasis upon employee development. “We have dedicated training in CI that individuals can sign up for, or that they can be put forward for, by their manager and HR as part of their overall learning and development plan,” explains Gautrey-Prue. “We are developing CI training pathways. In our eLearning portal, employees – guided by CI professionals – can take part in learning what they need to improve for customers in their value streams. “The programme is accredited to the Lean Competency System, a licensed service of Cardiff University.”

The results of RS CI programme over the last year alone have been impressive. With support from the CI Team, employees have delivered 267 improvement projects and begun working on a further 318 projects. There has been significant progress with the CI Strategy too. Highlights include developing, piloting and rolling out an LCS accredited Yellow Belt e-learning process and developing an industry standard CI Navigator. This tool, which is ready to move into the pilot phase, can be used to assess CI maturity.

"CI is a continual journey, it needs to be led from the top and owned by all. There is always room to improve and work closer with customers and suppliers to deliver a win/win for all parties " Keith Gautrey-Prue, Director for Group Continuous Improvement at Electrocomponents

Says Gautrey-Prue, “CI is a continual journey, it needs to be led from the top and owned by all. There is always room to improve and work closer with customers and suppliers to deliver a win/win for all parties. CI requires a mind-shift in the organisation, getting people to celebrate problems as opportunities to make things better for our customers, suppliers and employees. Creating this learning culture ensures we are never short of opportunities to drive the business forward and improve our service to our customers, better partner with our suppliers and in turn ensure we make amazing happen with our colleagues.

“It always comes back to our core philosophy: mindset, skillsets, toolsets.”