It is human nature to want to control things, especially things that we have created. Yet sometimes, to control the things we have made, we need to create something else.

Bonnell Aluminum (“Bonnell”) is one of the largest U.S. fully integrated manufacturers of custom fabricated and finished aluminium extrusions, serving primarily building and construction, speciality and automotive markets. Comprised of five manufacturing plants within the U.S., the company continues to grow organically and inorganically. With this growth has come the need for realignment of internal structures and processes. Working with Dploy Solutions, Bonnell’s leadership has been able to develop the synergies needed between the plants and people across the business.

Zahra Awan spoke to Carl Czarnik, Vice President, Bonnell Aluminum, Jason Ward, Director of Operational Excellence, Bonnell Aluminum, and Ken Koenemann, Vice President, Dploy Solutions to discuss the challenges and solutions behind forming successful collaboration and connections between separate manufacturing entities.

Why was Dploy needed and how has it been received by Bonnell Aluminum?

Carl Czarnik (CC):

I have been with Bonnell for around three years. When I arrived, I recognised the opportunity for better synergy, communication and sharing of best practices between the different manufacturing sites. Jason and I talked about how best to bring together five plants into one cohesive business unit.

We discussed the strategies available to improve connections between the sites, as well as which Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to use to measure the results of the strategies.

However, we were aware that although strategies are great, the alignment of the strategy throughout the company is the key to success. Everyone should know what their role is in the strategy and how they are connected to the overall strategy. Dploy provided us with the tool we needed to execute ideas and visualize the alignment of strategy between the individual plants, the business and our parent company, Tredegar Corporation.

Jason Ward (JW, see right):

I used an original version of Dploy in a previous role in the early 2000s, and even then, the concept to me seemed revolutionary. When I came to Bonnell in 2013, strategies and metrics varied from plant to plant. Prior to Dploy, the company relied extensively on spreadsheets to develop strategies and track results, and for the most part, spreadsheets were unique to each plant with very little linkage or sharing capabilities. Therefore, we introduced Dploy.

In policy deployment, it is critical to have the processes and routines in place for developing an actionable strategy before bringing in a tool like Dploy. Dploy provides tools that make you follow a strategy and the rules of that strategy deployment, or the database won’t work. The connect-the-dot matrix and forced alignment of the software requires that all dots are connected for the strategy to work. The system makes you perform all the steps. It has narrowed our metrics down to the critical few, simplifying our to-do list and prioritising them to those critical items. Even though we are one of the largest aluminum extrusion companies in North America, we have limited manpower; this software makes us more efficient at what we do.

Within Bonnell, we have different levels of strategy: Level 1 - overall Bonnell strategy; Level 2 - operational strategy; Level 3 - plant strategy and KPIs; Level 4 - departmental or value stream, and Level 5 - work groups. Level 3 should support Level 2 which should support Level 1. With Dploy, we are now able to get into Levels 4 and 5, aligning the strategies further and to a more detailed level.

Of course, things change. With each new development, we needed more analysis from Dploy, and Dploy delivered. We continue to work with Dploy to fix things and make the tool achieve more. It has been incredible.

Ken Koenemann (KK):

Dploy Solutions is a tool that we created to support the process and to make it easier. The tool ties the strategy to the actions, it lets us know what needs to be done, what we are doing and who is going to do it.

The software forces us to ask questions: Did the actions we take have the right impact or not? It tracks the KPI and provides Target To Improve (TTI). This visibility is seen along the whole strategy line, from Level 1 to Level 5. Here is where we are doing well. And here is where we have a little bit of a challenge.

CC (see left):

Dploy helps us really have a routine to go through what is working and what is not every month and every quarter.

At Bonnell, our management systems and strategies have been developed to encompass both horizontal and vertical integrations. We aim to get Dploy involved in both of these variations of management, and we are excited to see where this will take us. We now have Dploy implemented across all of Bonnell facilities.

JW:

One of the best ways to build a business is to create systems that foster alignment and collaboration. We feel we are now on a path to optimise collaboration, allowing us to focus on growing the business. Dploys has also given us the ability to bring on new team members into the system and create metrics from the start and hit the ground running.

Does Dploy help manage anti-corruption and compliance?

CC:

The software helps us to measure everything the same way as the application programming interface (API). We determine what the right KPI is, but the software ensures everybody measures the same way.

And with Dploy Solutions, everyone is moving in the same direction. We are also able to share best practices and do so without having to look through numerous spreadsheets and make multiple phone calls.

KK (see right):

There’s also an element of risk management, right?

We’ve seen clients try to connect all these spreadsheets and create all these linkages through them. And all you need is one person to go in and do something in that one cell, and it blows up.

So then, somebody spends hours and hours and hours trying to find that one change.

In that one cell.

It’s not efficient nor is it safe.

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