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Making a process “sustainable” and growing to a higher level through Continuous Improvement

We have started the recruitment of a Sr. Operational Excellence Engineer for Boston Scientific in Kerkrade

In this blog, I will tell you a bit more about Boston Scientific‘s Engineering department, the content of the vacancy, the various contacts the culture and the field of work of the Kerkrade-based company. Maybe it’s something for you? Enjoy reading!

This blog was created partly through the collaboration of Boston Scientific’s Engineering Manager: Marc Lataster.

Daan: Why is the role of Operational Excellence (OPEX) Engineer vacant?

Marc: The maturity within Boston Scientific regarding Operational Excellence is not yet at the desired level. From Kerkrade leadership and management, there is great belief in Operational Excellence and it is therefore labelled a top priority. Within operations and the support departments, we currently still have a primary focus on volumes, where in the future we will also have to pay much more attention to lean and operational excellence within all departments and disciplines of the organisation. Our job is to facilitate, enthuse and show employees the benefits.

Daan: What is the OPEX Engineer responsible for?

Marc: The OPEX engineer will be responsible for setting up a strategic operational excellence roadmap based on the Global Supply Chain Strategy and local (Kerkrade) priorities. In coordination with leadership and management, priorities are set and new processes and tools – in collaboration with operations, quality and engineering – will have to be implemented and sustained. Our challenge lies largely in post-implementation sustainment. This is where we still have a lot to gain. What we want is to make a process “sustainable” (i.e. embedded in our daily way of working) and then grow to a higher level year on year through Continuous Improvement. For example, consider various aspects of our day-to-day management such as: KPIs/ Metrics, Continuous Improvement, Problem Solving, Standard Work audits etc.

Daan: What are your experiences with Operational Excellence?

Marc: I come from the automotive industry where Operational Excellence is at a very high level. Here I learned what Lean and Operational Excellence can bring if you embed it properly in your processes, systems and culture. Culture change plays a major role in this. At Boston Scientific, we have a lot of freedom to interpret this in the right way ourselves.

Daan: What can you tell us about the Essentials?

Marc: Boston Scientific has packed Lean and Operational Excellence into so-called Essentials guidebooks, consisting of SQP (Strategic Quality Planning), Management Systems, Continuous Improvement and Functional Excellence. Elements of this guide include Operations Strategy, metrics, VIP, CAPA, Strategic Projects, Lean, Lean Business Processes, Distribution, Engineering, EH&S and Recognition & Engagement. Guidelines are then provided for each of these elements in terms of enablers, tools and sustaining. In other words, what do I need to successfully implement, roll out and sustain this.

However, the Essentials are mostly high level so they mainly describe WHAT to do but not HOW to roll it out in practice at the local level. Making this translation and successfully rolling out processes and tools is partly the responsibility of the OPEX engineer. However, the OPEX engineer is not solely responsible for this. Together with engineers from different “core areas” (such as inbound, outbound and expediting), the processes are rolled out and sustained.

Daan: What is the scope of work of an OPEX?

Marc: The Sr. OPEX engineer is the face and enquiry point for LEAN and Operational Excellence on the shopfloor and has an important contribution in a continuous improvement culture. The position therefore requires the Sr. OPEX engineer is in contact with shopfloor and in conversation with employees. It is a real human function. It is nice to make a plan but in the end it is the employees on the shopfloor who have to carry the plan and start implementing it. This position is focused on warehouse operations.

Daan: So you are looking for an ambassador!

Marc: The OPEX engineer is indeed the ambassador who gets employees excited about LEAN, Operational Excellence and implementing processes and tools. Someone who also sets up, organises and trains employees. Makes employees aware of the benefits of this culture change in daily practice and knows how to convince them to keep maintaining and further improving processes. Only then will it have a chance of success.

“it’s nice to make a plan but if it’s not supported by operations and other stakeholders in the execution phase we did not achieve our objective.”

Marc Lataster Boston Scientific blog

Marc Lataster, Engineering Manager

Daan: What is your history with Operational Excellence?

Marc: In the past, Boston Scientific in Kerkrade has shown previous initiatives on Lean and Operational Excellence but unfortunately these have not yet led to a sustainable high-level implementation. Processes and tools were introduced, but diluted over time. When I started 2 years ago, one of the biggest challenges was also getting the trust of the organisation – and in particular operations – when setting up new processes. An oft-heard argument was, “Again? We’ve done that in the past too (more than once). Why should it work now”? However, by hearing all stakeholders (especially the end users!) from the very beginning and including them in our projects, we now see that it is beginning to pay off. Operations, engineering, quality and other stakeholders work together in the same direction and new tools and processes are successfully introduced. In terms of sustaining, things still need to and can be better but even that will be fine in time if we keep giving it enough attention and coaching. The OPEX engineer’s job is to create an environment in which shopfloor employees want to continue thinking and collaborating to take Lean and Operational Excellence to the next level.

Daan: How is Operational Excellence currently being applied?

Marc: As an engineering department, we now extract key elements from Essentials. However, we are not looking at the big picture because we do not yet have a strategic roadmap. We do think we are doing the right things but it is not yet part of an integrated strategic plan.

Daan: What can you tell us about the engineering team?

Marc: Within the engineering department, we work with 11 engineers. To a large extent, these are core team engineers, responsible for supporting – and process improvements within operations. The core team – consisting of an industrial engineer, a quality engineer and an operations supervisor – is on the shop floor every day. As an OPEX engineer, you determine what the right prioritisation is for rolling out new processes and tools. You are in the lead of these projects and work intensively with the engineers and supervisors involved.
We also have about 3 project engineers and thus this open position of Sr. Operational Excellence Engineer.

Daan: Can you describe the culture within your department?

Marc: The culture within our engineering department can be described as an open culture. We can throw everything on the table and are always willing to help each other. I am proud of that. Regularly, someone takes the initiative informally to go out for a drink after work. For me, that marks the fine and informal atmosphere within the team.

Daan: Who here will not be happy in the role as OPEX?

Marc: As an OPEX engineer, you are constantly talking to the people on the shopfloor, the engineers in charge and other stakeholders. If you prefer to stay behind your laptop, this is not the right job for you. Boston Scientific is a dynamic organisation. Processes and responsibilities are not always fully crystallised. You often have to find your own way here. The OPEX engineer takes ownership and responsibility and looks for the right information he/she needs. On the one hand, you certainly won’t end up in a well-spread bed but on the other hand, opportunities and freedoms abound to set up Operational Excellence within limited frameworks with all stakeholders!

Do you like this and would you like to know more about your career opportunities at Boston Scientific? Then check out the position of Sr. Operational Excellence Engineer and apply! I’ll talk to you soon.

Thank you for reading!

Daan Crutzen

Talentfinder & Blogger

Daan Crutzen

Recruitment specialist


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