Meyer Werft, a family-owned maker of cruise vessels based in the northwestern German town of Papenburg, hired Porsche two years ago to shorten production cycles and improve cooperation with its 1,800 suppliers, as 75 percent of components in luxury liners now come from outside contractors. Porsche helped the company move to a “just-in-time” supply system to cut inventory.
“We now have a lot of space in the hall and can do much more things at the same time,” said Bernard Meyer, Meyer Werft's managing director. “We're opening our own academy. We want to ensure that our staff doesn't slip back into past routines.”
Toy truck lessons
Porsche Consulting, which still advises the auto-making unit on improving manufacturing and administration, invites customers to its training center in Leipzig, Germany, where managers assemble toy trucks and fold cardboard boxes before being coached on lean-production techniques.
Porsche has come out on top of J.D. Power's annual quality study in the U.S. for six consecutive years, leaving behind Mercedes-Benz, Toyota's Lexus and BMW.
Remedies applied at Porsche work just as well in other industries, with customers including car suppliers, plane makers, hospitals and furniture manufacturers, Eberhard Weiblen, who heads the unit, said in an interview.
“Many clients come to us and say, ‘Please turn us into the Porsches of our industries,'” Weiblen said.
Lufthansa's catering division is now using Porsche's services to help improve logistics at a unit that produced 405 million meals last year for 300 airlines such as American Airlines or Asiana Airlines Inc., he said.
Two years ago, Lufthansa's maintenance unit used the sports car maker to cut time on aircraft overhauls. Coaching in Leipzig and at the division's Hamburg headquarters helped trim the time Lufthansa needs to dismantle, check and reassemble an A340 plane by 10 days to no more than 26 days.
Volkswagen, which is merging with Porsche, has contracted with the consulting unit on production since 1996, Weiblen said, declining to discuss the specifics of VW projects.