Photo of Hauni employees Karsten Barsch, Christian Junge and Nina Gröncke in front of a machine, the multi-segment maker

Tobacco

Sprinting to innovations

Flexible, fast, and consistently customer-focused: Hauni has realigned its product development operations and created the pioneering Multi Segment Maker (MSM) in record time.

And there it is: A huge elongated cabinet made of metal, with countless drum-shaped rollers behind its transparent doors. Up above runs a slim conveyor belt that transports the tobacco sticks. Next to the MSM is a flip chart, and there are also index cards on which the next production steps are noted. Karsten Barsch stood here many times last year to discuss the state of operations and progress during shop floor meetings with his team of installers, developers, and purchasers. “It was great how everyone regularly came together at the machine — it’s a lot of fun when you work that way,” says Barsch, who in his capacity as Project Manager Secondary is responsible for the production of the MSM machines scheduled for delivery in 2019. Each machine is individually configured from the modular concept so that it is matched to the customer’s specific application.

Put simply, a Multi Segment Maker brings together the basic technological features of a Protos-M with those of a KDF 5MF filter combiner. In other words, the performance capabilities of various successful machine types are consolidated into a model that can be used flexibly. Indeed, the modular concept used for the MSM is what offers customers the greatest benefit. This concept makes it possible to adapt the machine to all different types of customer products and ensures that it meets special requirements — for example, those involving additional inspection steps. “As a result, customers are able to react to market developments more quickly,” Barsch explains. “When consumer preferences change, the MSM is simply reconfigured.”

Photo of Karsten Barsch, responsible for the order fulfillment process, in the "Atlas" room at Hauni in Hamburg-Bergedorf
Karsten Barsch, who is responsible for the order completion process, operates the production of the MSM machines. The project status is ­regularly reviewed in Hauni’s “Atlas” room in Hamburg-Bergedorf.

More fragmented markets

The MSM is an example of the many forward-looking ways Hauni is responding to the transformation of the international tobacco industry. For many decades, companies focused on increasing manufacturing speed, but the market has been more fragmented and heterogeneous for several years now. Next-generation products such as e-cigarettes and tobacco heating products (THPs), which heat rather than burn tobacco, have established themselves alongside the traditional product range; the MSM also produces THP sticks, for example. It’s still not clear how consumer preferences will develop in this area in the future, so manufacturers need to be prepared to react flexibly to any changes. “For us, this means working more closely with our customers at an earlier stage and ensuring that our machines become even more adaptable,” says Barsch.

Portrait of Scrum Master Andreas Plump.
Andreas Plump, Scrum Master.

To this day, the entrepreneurial spirit of company founder Kurt A. Körber is reflected in Hauni’s well-maintained brick buildings and huge production halls in the Bergedorf district of Hamburg — a place steeped in tradition and brimming with inventiveness. The MSM is just the latest example of a type of customer focus and innovative spirit that’s embedded in the company’s DNA. Developed in record time, the MSM offers customers a new dimension of flexibility. The project that led to its development was also ground-breaking in terms of its use of new and even more agile work methods and processes for product development at Hauni. Such a project requires a gradual and cross-functional approach. It all began when a development team led by Dr. Hans-Heinrich Müller developed the foundation for modular machines that incorporated all the required functions from the very beginning. In the project, work was performed using agile methods that included daily shop floor meetings, sprints, and the formation of small teams that organized their tasks independently. All of this was managed by the MSM product owner team, whose members regularly coordinated with one another in a scrum project room, where the tasks for each sprint were defined.

lThe combination of clear objectives and independent work strengthens motivation and the participants’ sense of personal responsibility. r

Andreas Plump, Scrum Master at Hauni

“Agile work methods like scrum make functional areas more permeable and intensify communication between departments,” says Andreas Plump, a scrum master and agile coach who together with his colleagues develops the key processes and structures required for projects (see short interview). Plump is the one who makes sure that teams can work without restrictions and that information can flow freely (see interview on the left). Other scrum participants include the developer team and the product owner, who, among other things, passes on customer requirements to the developer team.

Detail view of the production of the Multi-Segment-Maker, a machine for the production of cigarettes.
Making an MSM machine is precision work.
A machine with its protective hood removed, exposing the gear rollers inside.
Rollers in the Multi Segment Maker: Its modular concept enables the MSM be to adapted to ­specific customer requirements.

The walls in the scrum room are covered with sticky notes of various colors containing information on the sprint results that need to be achieved and the tasks that need to be performed. The teams (of which there were seven for the MSM project) meet here several times a week. Plump, who studied mechanical engineering, makes sure the coordination meetings focus on results and participants stick to the time limits, which means he steps in if discussions get bogged down in details that inhibit progress. “The combination of clear objectives and independent work significantly strengthens motivation and the participants’ sense of personal responsibility,” he explains.

Hauni has been utilizing the scrum method for machine development for several years now, one example being the Ventis logistics solution developed especially for THP production operations. Compared to conventional development processes, in which specialists complete their tasks independently and don’t meet up until the late stages of development, the scrum method offers the benefit of a faster and more flexible iterative approach. Here, what works is continued and what doesn’t work is canceled.

Consistent customer Orientation

Speed is the decisive factor in a rapidly changing market. This led to yet another innovation with the Multi Segment Maker: for the first time ever, the order completion process (OCP), i.e. production, was launched in parallel with the machine development process. “We redefined processes, space arrangements, and delivery locations,” says Barsch, who is also responsible for the OCP. Product and OCP managers met every day to coordinate, and two OCP teams worked on overlapping schedules between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. in order to ensure that the ambitious project goals could be achieved. “Everyone was highly motivated because the successes we achieved over and over again showed us that our approach was paying off,” Barsch explains. The new approach has thus proved its worth and is now being used in many other projects.

Portrait photo of Nina Gröncke, project engineer at Hauni
Consistent customer focus: Nina Gröncke will accompany the technicians on their visits to one of the first MSM customers in order to obtain important feedback.

It’s not just customers who benefit from early involvement in projects, as this approach offers advantages to other specialist departments as well. “We were involved from the very beginning when the decision had to be made as to which types of testing systems would be installed and where,” says Christian Junge, Group Manager for Software Development and Sensor Systems. Junge’s team develops the sensors that check each cigarette or stick for capsule defects, leaks, and the presence of foreign substances. Junge was very impressed by the extensive cooperation with others in the MSM project. “We worked together on ways to ensure the viability of the machines for future operations by addressing everything from the use of new materials to the implementation of new inspection procedures,” Junge explains. “The amount of space available in the MSM for testing systems is now so large that the installation of additional sensors and testing drums won’t pose any problems at all in the future, which means greater flexibility for customers.”

A key aspect of the MSM project was to ensure a consistent focus on the customer in terms of everything from the initial idea to the agile work methods used and the finished product itself. Customer focus also extends beyond the finished product. For example, Nina Gröncke, a project engineer in the Technical Customer Service department, will be accompanying the technicians on an visit to one of the first customers for the MSM. Prior to setting out for her visits, she extensively studied the machine and all of its details in order to support the technicians on a site and ensure optimal operation of the MSM. However, she’s also interested in obtaining additional customer feedback and determining whether the customer wants any changes made to the way the modules are combined. “That’s because the suggestions customers make are valuable,” Gröncke explains. “Ultimately, it’s their individual requirements that count.”

Portrait of Dr. Bernd Pape, Head of Digitization in Körbers Business Area Tobacco
“We focus first on gaining an understanding of customer requirements and then develop a solution that meets them,” says Dr. Bernd Pape, Head of Digitization at the Business Area Tobacco.

Agile methods in digital projects

Agile work methods are used not only for the MSM but also in digitization projects. The gradual approach has proved itself in projects involving digital solutions in particular. Examples include projects for smart factories, where more and more information and processes are migrated from paper to computer monitors and databases, as well as projects related to maintenance and customer services.

The goal here is always the same: To be able to respond more rapidly to customer requirements and thus offer customers greater added value. “Instead of providing customers with fully developed solutions, we focus first on gaining an understanding of customer requirements and then develop a solution that meets them,” says Dr. Bernd Pape, Head of Digitization at the Business Area Tobacco.

Here it’s also useful to try out various approaches to a solution in dynamic environments. Additive manufacturing is a good example of this in a field of increasing importance. The Business Area Tobacco has been working with all the other Business Areas in the Group for some time on the development of a solution that will enable parts to be printed close to the customer. “When we began the project, printing technology still wasn’t advanced enough for our needs,” says Pape. “Nevertheless, it was a good idea to start the project when we did, because if we had waited, we would have been too late on the market.”

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