Nolet Distillery is the proud producer of Ketel One Vodka, Ketel One Botanical, Ketel 1 Jenever, and Nolet Dry Gin. It’s a strong family business that has been distilling in Schiedam for more than 325 years. Production manager Mark Haster talks about OEE, improving, and moving with a rapidly growing market.
Nolet Distillery is located in the center of Schiedam. Are all products delivered from this location?
“Absolutely. The company was founded there in 1691 and has a strong connection with the city. We have a beautiful location in Schiedam, with on the one side of the Buitenhaven our mill The Nolet, the distillery, and the bottling plant, and our high-rise warehouse on the other side.”
What does the Nolet production process look like?
“We have 110 colleagues. The spirits are produced in the distillery, and end up in 40,000-liter tanks. We have five bottle lines, three of which directly receive the product from these big tanks, while the other two are filled from 1,000-liter stainless-steel tanks.
The bottled products are put on pallets and transported to our warehouse through an 80-meter long tunnel that runs underneath the Buitenhaven. That is really special since it’s one of only two privately-owned tunnels in the Netherlands. It’s a great way to reduce the impact on traffic movement.”
Do you work around the clock?
“Not usually, but we have grown so much in the past years. Especially since we introduced our new product Ketel One Botanical. Market demand led to spikes that inadvertently led to working in double shifts a few times. It was quite a challenge to change and organize a second shift temporarily. But we managed because the whole company is committed; everybody is present, ready to pull their own weight. We want to return to one daily shift. Cierpa’s OEE software has helped us calculate how much we can manufacture and how we can plan it during day hours.”
“Because the whole company is involved; everybody is committed, ready to pull their own weight.“
With all those different products, you must be quite busy with line conversion?
“That’s right. We fill different sizes from 50 ml bottles up to 4,5-liter bottles. And we also use specific labels for the almost 80 countries we export to.
That’s why we are working hard to optimize the conversion process. For example, a SMED-team has recently finished a project cutting a frequent and time-consuming conversion time into just about half. Those are important conversions that save a lot of money in the end too.”
How important is improving for Nolet?
“We started using Cierpa a couple of years ago to improve our OEE. The first two years we spent laying the foundation, by collecting information and configuring different kinds of meetings that fit us.
Currently, we use two different Cierpa OEE input methods to get a clear view of our numbers. On lines with few malfunctions, we use a manual scorecard. And on lines with more malfunctions and short breaks in production, the automated real-time method is more practical. Otherwise, the operator can’t keep up. This way, we discover different improvement opportunities, making it possible to follow-up on recurring malfunctions and better plan our maintenance schedules. That allows you to make big improvement steps.”
“We are taking big improvement steps in reducing malfunctions and planning maintenance times.”
Was it difficult to introduce a new work method in the company?
“Actually, no. We took our time to find the way that fit us best. From the start, we included everyone in the decision-making process. You can really feel that Nolet is a family company because everyone is committed.
It’s also very important to train everyone before the start and to explain the use and importance of the software: that it’s reliable and gives us useful data that benefits us all.
After our first waste analyses, we once again involved everyone in choosing what waste would be addressed first. There’s often a visceral feeling where the biggest problem lies, but that’s not always the most important instance of waste.”
How do you work now?
“We talk about our data twice a day, in board meetings with a fixed agenda. Production, technical staff, quality, safety, planning: every department is involved. We allot actions instantly so they will be carried out quickly. The lines are really short.”
What’s your most important tip for improvement?
“Include your people in the process, from beginning to end. Teach them to understand the process and show what the gains are. That involvement is priceless.”