Alexandria Trattner, Fotograf: Vincci Morales

DTU Industrial PhD makes a paradigm shift at ROCKWOOL

Tuesday 04 Jun 19


Lars Hvam
DTU Management
+45 45 25 44 35

DTU Industrial PhD implemented a complete new product strategy and a framework for reducing product complexity at ROCKWOOL.

Coping with increasing product variety and production complexity have been some of the principal industrial challenges of the industry in the age of globalisation, mass customization, and more selective customers. A broad product portfolio can require increase changeovers in production, reduced production efficiencies, more complex production planning, and poor delivery service towards the end customer.

A high product variety is particularly a challenge for process industry companies that are characterised by large, expensive, automated equipment designed to mass-produce a narrow product range. However, Alexandria Lee Trattner has as a part of her Industrial PhD at DTU developed a programme for analysing the product assortment at the ROCKWOOL Group, the leading supplier of fire resilient stone wool insulation and reduced unprofitable products at the company.

“Together with members of our supply chain department, Alexandria developed and drove a programme for analysing the product assortment and reducing unsold and unprofitable products at the company. Throughout three years, the total number of stock keeping units was reduced by 51 per cent and the number of stock keeping units with low earnings was reduced by 33 per cent across 15 business units. Furthermore, business processes for monitoring and controlling product variety levels were implemented in each business unit”, says Senior Vice President, Bjørn Rici Andersen, Group Operations & Technology at ROCKWOOL”.

He explains that Alexandria’s work has provided the company with new insight on the level of complexity and variability in the product portfolio and production processes. In addition, her strategy and framework of identification and governance of reducing unsold and unprofitable products has created transparency and resulted in a true paradigm shift at ROCKWOOL and her work on speed loss and production planning is now supporting operational improvement efforts to increase capacity across factories at the insulation company.

Inspiration for other companies
Today Alexandria is working at ROCKWOOL in the Group Operational Excellence department as a specialist where she is responsible for scoping and implementing Big Data Analytics and Industry 4.0 projects in ROCKWOOL factories. She is glad that her PhD resulted in so many insights and profitable changes.

“The success of the implementation was largely due to support from the management team and the availability of resources to carry out the operational tasks related to my study. Assuming similar management commitment and resources are in place, I think the research findings could be easily implemented within other medium and large scale process industry companies e.g. producers of pharmaceuticals, food, beverages, and enzymes, though the scale of the financial and operational benefits could differ from the cases in my thesis”, Alexandria explains.

Professor Lars Hvam of DTU Management, who supervised the project, explains that Alexandria’s findings give insight to both academics and practitioners on the nature of the relationship between product variety and operational performance and suggest methods by which the relationship can be managed.

“Some of the conceptual findings regarding the impact of product variety on operational performance can guide practitioners on how to manage product variety in other industries, such as automotive and industrial goods. However, the methods presented and tested in Alexandria’s thesis may require some adaptation before being relevant to these types of companies”, says Lars Hvam.

Alexandria has developed and tested a novel product portfolio optimization model and a new speed loss analysis framework which both support product variety management initiatives. None of them has ever been used before in ROCKWOOL nor any other company due to their novelty.

Alexandria has already given presentations about her findings for many companies and at DTU courses and Lars hope that the results will inspire other companies in their management of product variety.

Learn more: PhD Complexity Management at ROCKWOOL.