Massimiliano Niselli
July 23, 2019

Steps: a story of progression within Stevanato Group

Massimiliano Niselli has written an article on his interpretation of the Global State of Operational Excellence Survey Report - Critical Challenges & Future Trends - 2018/2019.  Click here to download the full Survey Report 2018/19.   

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With nearly 1000 respondents, 37 insightful questions, detailed analysis & insights from 40 industry thought leaders, and the BTOES Insights executive team, this 130 page report is recognised as the most comprehensive study of critical challenges and future trends within Operational Excellence, and is considered a key resource for the industry. Areas covered include:

  • The Critical Operational Excellence Challenges faced by executives.

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Steps: a story of progression within Stevanato Group

1. 2014: OpEx is born

"Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, working together is a success".

(H. Ford)


The Operational Excellence team was established 4 years ago at the will of the CEO to streamline processes in different plants placed in different continents. This to meet the needs of customers, that is the pharmaceutical companies.Click here to read the full Survey Report 2018/19. 

The company decided to put together:

  • a plant manager as function manager

  • 2 senior engineers with their Lean Six Sigma experience to coach on method

  • the decennial experience of 4 "wizards" of glass, the product’s technicians who are truly familiar with the production process

  • the energy and the desire to change of 6 young engineers between 25 and 30 years old


At the beginning, the team took part of an envisioning workshop that led to the creation of the “OpEx group Mission”.


“We are a multicultural, passionate and sparkling team of change agents supporting the achievement of Stevanato Group’s long-term strategic goals.

Every day we drive improvements and create value for internal and external customers, working shoulder to shoulder with SG people in all processes.

Everywhere we strive for excellence by bringing standards, methods, and data-driven approach.

Everyone of us brings enthusiasm and contribute to allow SG people expressing their potential."

[OpEx Team Mission, Stevanato Group]




2. 2015: Setting the basement

"When you are able to measure what you are talking about and express it in numbers, you know something about it. While when you can not express it in numbers, your knowledge is poor and unsatisfactory."

(Lord Kelvin)


2.1. Live the Gemba

The first challenge was to get the young engineers into the heart of the processes, thinking together with the most experienced technicians on possible optimizations.

Therefore the boys worked in the departments of the Italian factory for almost a year, with the aim of getting familiar with the production processes, watching and experiencing daily the shoopfloor and putting the first standard practices to the ground.


2.2. PCS: data first

To overcome the normal hostility and skepticism of the initial phases, pilot areas to create a system for measuring and managing performances were created.

In several areas we had some roadblocks: old department leaders had their own reporting systems and did not want to change the way they looked at KPIs and other standards. We had to work with the people to standardize the method. Click here to read more Articles on The Global State of Operational Excellence: Critical Challenges & Future Trends - Research Report 2018/19.


Steps: a story of progression withinSteps: a story of progression within Stevanato Group 

2.3. 5S: involving everybody

We started many 5S process in different departments. To reach the goal, we used the so called “standard approach”, which means selecting a pilot area, training people and starting with the 5 steps. This until the control phase. The first successful cases generated passion and excitement both in the OpEx team and in the departments.


2.4. Six Sigma training: the belt program

Belt program course was a necessary educational path and at last certification to Lean Six Sigma.

The program was this built:

  • three groups of people, for an amount of 30 people, achieved the green belt certification.  They were “certified” after the presentation of their own project, which had to be money saving

  • nine groups of people, for an amount of 110 people, achieved the yellow bel certification.



3. 2016-2017 The customer

"There is only one supreme leader: the customer. The customer can fire everyone in the company, from the president down, simply by spending his money somewhere else"

Sam Walton (Founder of Wal-Mart)


3.1.Going to foreign plants

After 9 months-training in the Italian plant, three of the six young engineers mentioned above got to work to other countries: China, Brazil, Mexico and Slovakia became their new homes. In these places they developed the first improvement projects, based on the experiences made in Italy.

In this long period every engineer faced different mentality and attitudes, because of different cultures. For example, engineers tried to apply the Italian standard in each plant, but every country interpreted differently. Different cultural contexts have to be deeply analyzed and understood to apply method and build success.  


3.2. The VOC (Voice of the customer) and the Six Sigma Approach on Quality

“Put Customer @ Center” was launched as a new program that involves 8 cross-functional groups that works closely with Top8 Customers listening to the Voice of the Customer. These eight groups meet every month to analyze Service Level, Internal Quality, Complaints, R & D Projects.

The focus was Quality: six sigma projects were launched and led by the OpEx team. Thus, thanks to its expertise network in several plants, has collected good results and has quickly exported them to all plants.




4. 2018: a Global Program

4.1. Why

Before OpEx the Company’s complexity was growing very fast: we started to have different businesses, many production sites, increasingly demanding customers to satisfy.

Operational Excellence Team had already used some TPM elements, but not in a comprehensive way: in 2018 the CEO decided to adopt WCM tecniques, in order to have more structured journey to excellence: “By applying recognized standardization metrics worldwide, we do want now to be recognized by the market and by the customers as the best in quality, safety and efficiency.”

It will be a long journey, which will take us step by step to:

  • increase the exchange of information and experience between functions and establishments;

  • create a common spirit of optimism and proactivity;

  • harmonize and standardize all the Stevanato Group processes, towards the same direction;

  • improve our performance;

  • guarantee the execution of our activities in the most flowing way possible, thus defining a whole world of excellence instead of different “islands of excellences”.

4.2. Stevanato Progression System (STEPS)

STEPS are literally the steps that we all have to climb to reach the goal of excellence. These steps are up hilling, because we further improve the way we work, in all its aspects. It is therefore a continuous progression: for this reason we named it STEPS.


4.3. One

The Steps Program gives us the chance to have one common improvement philosophy, which is to eliminate losses in all process though the active participation of all the employees; one common language, which is building up the same KPI’s and standards; one common Roadmap.


4.4. From function to process

Before STEPS our production organization was too much organized by silos: Production, Quality, Safety, Logistics. All these departments have something in common : the value stream map.



5. Challenges of next years

 it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself (Charles Darwin


5.1. Change Management

Managers are more difficult to engage than shop floor worker, although managers say the opposite. Leadership and delegation are key-points to be worked on in this program, especially because the deepest impact  concerns middle management.


5.2. More resources? It’s not true!

At the beginning of the STEPS program, many colleagues reacted saying: "We do not have the resources, we cannot do it”.  It’s time to improve processes: we can do the same things differently, more efficiently and systemically.

When we installed the first PCS (Performance Control System), many argued that there was more work to do. Monitoring KPIs and the actions to be taken on “off-target plants” was an activity still made by the production manager, the foremen and the shift leaders. Only this was unstructured. Through a cascade meeting system that brings decisions to the correct level, STEPS brought order and rigor. Today this system allows us to keep our plants under control, and everyone has the responsibility of KPIs.

You do not have to do more things, but to do the same things differently.


5.3. Digital Mismatch

STEPS has another focus: following the transformation implemented by the "philosophy" of the industry 4.0. To achieve significant results in terms of business and productivity, it’s not enough to increase the intelligence of things (to paraphrase what happens inside the Internet of Things), whereas it’s necessary to increase human intelligence, covering new professional skills.

In this period we are guiding the roadmap of technological evolution towards the generation of value (according to a lean approach), a theme never tackled before. We need engineers that know how to evaluate new technologies and what impact they will have on the production systems. Engineers have to be able to streamline production processes digitizing them, this being the key element in the future decade.

And how about the operators? They will gradually learn how to interpret quantitative and graphical data (ie. OEE loss  deployment), how to identify solutions to problems and how to interact with collaborative robots, devices, systems and sensors. Finally, in a remote future, they will have to learn how to use virtual and augmented glasses and use exoskeletons and other wearable devices.

We will have to equip ourselves to not be surprised by this great revolution. From the technical point of view everything is ready; it’s mandatory to create the right skills.

In my opinion the “4.0 chapter” is a great opportunity: older employees have deep technical knowledge and experience, on the other hand the youngest know everything the technologies.

This diversity, if exploited in an intelligence way, can become a marriage of wealth.




6. Final recommendation

  1. Be Fully Aligned with company strategic decision

  2. Listen to people of shopfloor

  3. Be passionate and curious

  4. Be patient

  5. Smile and have fun!


Want to learn more? Download the full Report.
Steps: a story of progression within Stevanato Group


About the Author 

Massimiliano: Steps: a story of progression within Stevanato GroupMassimiliano Niselli

Operational Excellence Coordinator, Stevanato Group

Massimiliano is a Lean Six Sigma Belt with 10 years of experience in Operational Excellence, inside a wide variety of industries. Currently he is Operational Excellence Coordinator at Stevanato Group where he:

• is responsible for Steps Program (=WCM) strategy, design and implementation within 6 plants(Italy, China, Mexico, Slovakia, Brazil)

• selects, prioritizes, monitors improvement projects, according to Process Excellence methodologies (X-Matrix, …)

• Plays an important role in helping to foster a culture of sustainable change through the creation and embedding of Lean Six Sigma methodology. Check out his LinkedIn page.


The issues in this article are just one of topic areas that are going to be discussed at the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence World Summit & Industry (BTOES19). March 18-22, 2019, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort®

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There is a strong focus on Cultural Transformation, Customer Delight, Sustaining an Operational Excellence program, Need for end-to-end Business Transformation, Keeping up with new technologies/impact of digitalization and Leadership Buy-in & Understanding. We dedicated two tracks to advanced technologies, such as AI, Machine Learning, RPA, Predictive Analytics, Blockchain, Cloud infrastructure etc.


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