BASF (Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik, or, in English, Baden Aniline and Soda Factory), the largest chemical producer in the world, has announced that it saved nearly €60 million last year by implementing improvement proposals suggested by its employees. BASF has been soliciting improvement proposals from its employees for several years, and the initiative continues to pay massive dividends.
The chemical giant implemented nearly 21,000 improvement proposals from its employees across the world, a similar figure to what the program had produced in 2015. These ideas, which included ideas ranging from an efficient distillation of a solvent and to a new approach to the energy-saving melting of waxes, helped the initiative to save the company at least €30 million for the fifth year in a row.
BASF rewards its employees with bonuses for new ideas that are implemented, but their incentives are not exclusively financial. By participating in the program they are able to improve their working conditions, make better use of time and materials, and find better ways to perform their daily tasks. In addition to this, employees report a higher level of commitment as a result of an initiative that allows them to have their say, express themselves, and make a contribution to how the company operates .
Aside from the huge financial savings for BASF, they also benefit from implementing a program that gets employees to break out of silos and work across divisions. This helps employees to share best practices and knowledge and encourages a culture of teamwork and communication. In fact, some of the best ideas from last year were the result of employees from different divisions and locations working together.
For example, employees at a melamine plant worked with the quality management department to implement a refurbishment project. Thanks to this cross-divisional work, instead of the plant sitting idle for months, the combined knowledge of the divisions allowed the team to identify the specific lines that needed refurbishment whilst the other lines remained open. Downtime was reduced to just 8 weeks and €2 million was saved.
This would not have been possible without an initiative that encouraged employees to share ideas and to work with other divisions on business needs and problems. For a relatively small amount of investment, BASF has been able to save its employees. The program is one of the best investments they will ever make .