IWC Schaffhausen has won the GEO Award in its first-ever entry into the industry competition “Factory of the Year”. The prize is one of the most desirable awards for European companies and attests to the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer’s outstanding operational excellence across the entire value-added chain. But the strong performances of IWC in the areas of quality and sustainability have also been recognised by the jurors.
Perfect quality can only be achieved by excellence on all levels: The very highest performance is required in innovation, development and design, but above all in terms of various production processes, so that every individual timepiece from IWC fulfils the strictest requirements for quality, reliability and long service life. In 2018, IWC consolidated the production of movement parts, movement assembly and case-making in a new Manufacturing Center. Now the transparently structured watchmaking company, in which IWC combines traditional craftsmanship with the latest production methods and technologies, has been awarded with the GEO Award (Global Excellence in Operations) at the industry competition “Factory of the Year”.
The operations specialists of IWC have developed a new production layout for the new Manufacturing Center, which illustrates the value stream from the raw material to the finished movement or case in a closely coordinated process. Comprehensive lean principles were taken into account here, which are above all targeted at the avoidance of mistakes, short throughput times and high quality. The shop floor areas, in which employees regularly meet and exchange information, also contribute to the constant improvement of the processes. Striving for operational excellence at IWC goes back to the company’s foundation over 150 years ago. Back then, the American watchmaker and engineer F.A. Jones introduced centralised production with a distinct division of labour and used hydropower from the Rhine to drive his machines. This is how he achieved not only better and more stable production processes, but also quality not previously known for mechanical watches.
“We participated in this competition in order to precisely benchmark ourselves against the best industrial companies in Europe and to allow us to learn from this. After all, as engineers of the art of watchmaking, we want to constantly scrutinise our procedures, continuously develop our processes further and sustainably increase the quality of our products. Winners in the last few years have included some of the most famous industrial companies in Europe, including our long-standing partner Mercedes-AMG. We are therefore especially pleased that we are now the first luxury watch manufacturer to have been awarded the GEO Award for operational excellence”, adds Stefan Jung, Lean Advisor of IWC Schaffhausen.
JURORS RECOGNISE PROGRESS IN QUALITY AND SUSTAINABILITY
The competition’s jurors particularly recognised the efforts with which IWC improves the quality of its products and increases sustainability in production. Examples mentioned included the use of advanced techniques for data analysis. From the production of a product and all test steps right up to service and customer feedback, comprehensive data on quality is collected and evaluated at IWC. The findings from this regularly feed into the improvement of processes. IWC’s performance in the area of sustainability was also particularly highlighted – for example, energy efficiency in production, the avoidance of waste and the “Great Place to Work” certification as an employer.
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