At the beginning of the 80s, José Calvo Calvo was in charge of Work Organisation, Methods and Times, and Productivity Improvement for all Motor Ibérica factories in Spain. Nissan acquired this company and José was given the mission to travel to Japan with his team of collaborators to learn about the work philosophy behind the Lean business culture.
When he arrived, he discovered a well-oiled supply chain: suppliers delivered pieces at the right time, with the quality that had been agreed on. But in Spain at that time, most problems were generated as a result of suppliers who were used to delivering mislabelled parts, in the incorrect box, with insufficient quality or past the deadline; and this meant that an army of people was involved in verifying the quality of deliveries. A situation that generated chaos in the lines.
When he got back to Spain, José set up a training academy to educate Nissan’s suppliers in the Japanese management methodology – now known as Lean manufacturing – with the goal of making companies more efficient, profitable, and to be able to eliminate all activities that didn’t add value. He also began to teach MTM, a technique for improving productivity that had been virtually unknown in Spain until then.
In 1998, Itemsa is born, the Specialist Technical Institute in MTM, S.A.
Now, how does a company like Itemsa (which started out with training courses) currently have 80% of its turnover coming from productivity improvement projects and from the implementation of its software, ItemsaSoft PROCESOS?
Nissan suppliers who took the Japanese methodology courses (Kaizen, Jit, Gemba Kanri) and the MTM courses asked José and his team to visit their factories to give his opinion on what they should improve. This was the first step: recommend an improvement plan to his students and their companies. This phase stabilised in the early nineties, when the same clients required help that would cross the threshold of a simple recommendation. Itemsa took the next step and created a technical structure of people who were capable of going to companies to not only advise them, but to also get involved with the team and execute projects in a joint manner.
In 2003, Itemsa had a large workload and developed a computer tool to unify criteria and manage all of its projects. This was the starting point for ItemsaSoft PROCESOS, a software that was born as a proprietary instrument for developing Itemsa’s projects, and that had such good results that clients ended up discovering it and, knowing that there was nothing like it on the market, they demanded it for their own companies. The big leap came in 2005 when Itemsa created a commercial version of the software.
In its early years, Itemsa’s clients were mainly factories in the automotive, appliances and small appliances sectors, which at the time were looking to permanently reduce costs.
Today, Itemsa has extrapolated and adapted the methodologies used in the automotive industry to companies in many other sectors with lots of different characteristics; small and medium-sized industries in sectors such as food, cardboard, chemical, pharmaceutical, hotels, hospitals, etc., as well as large industries (also called “big elephants”) such as the manufacturers of trains, planes or wind turbines. But the goal is always the same: to reduce costs, based on the elimination of wastefulness.
Clients currently have an important and growing need for flexibility, since they make much smaller batches than before and have a wide variety and variability of models and options from a very broad spectrum. Optimisation also revolves around flexibility.
Itemsa’s methodology is still very current and manages to guide, establish and autonomously manage an adequate policy for the permanent and sustainable improvement of business productivity. What has in fact been transformed is the way of gathering information thanks to Industry 4.0, which Itemsa participates in both in terms of its way of working and its IT tools; and with this huge technological revolution and an immediacy of available information, it’s possible to take the appropriate measures when something begins to deviate from its standard.
The tools and technology used by Itemsa’s clients have evolved over its 30 years of existence in the market. In the past, pieces were transported by cars while today they are moved by a robot. But no matter what, Itemsa is always after the same thing: productivity optimisation.