L`Oréal`s Manufacturing Makeover

By Jacques Playe Print this article Print

A new central IT system for process information improved efficiency by ensuring uniform production, quality and process methodologies at L´Oréal’s worldwide operations.

Summary: L’Oréal implemented a manufacturing systems overhaul to streamline processes, create a new technology framework and enable disparate locations around the world to share information and best practices more effectively. Jacques Playe, CIO, Operations, at the Paris-based cosmetics corporation, explains how the restructuring significantly increased processing capacity, reduced costs and improved quality.

Virtually everyone has heard of L’Oréal or used our products, but few people think about the massive challenges we face to produce high-quality, consistent products around the globe. Our company is driven by the philosophy that everyone aspires to beauty, so our core mission is to help people around the world realize that aspiration.

Achieving that mission has everything to do with how our products are made, and that fundamentally relies on the technology we use to support production. This is challenging for a company with more than 67,000 employees in 130 countries supporting 23 global brands.

We recently re-engineered our entire manufacturing process to work more efficiently, while still supporting the quality and integrity our brands have enjoyed for years. We needed to ensure that our products, which come from 42 factories around the world, are all created using uniform production, quality and process methodologies.

Given the scale of our operations, we knew that the manufacturing technology, processes and controls we put in place would be integral to the effectiveness of our global operations and the success of our brand. We also realized that our ERP system couldn’t support our goal of global product uniformity without consolidating disparate systems worldwide. There was an opportunity to improve productivity, safety and quality by standardizing on best-practice processes throughout the company.

There’s always a lot of talk about aligning IT with the business, but business process management projects, more than any other, push IT to work together with the business and foster change. Change is not easy, and when corporate tells branches around the world to change their processes and routines, it can seem intimidating.

Our manufacturing project required changes in employee habits, and we needed to foster knowledge-sharing across geographical and cultural boundaries. To help accomplish that, we dedicated significant resources to a structured approach to implementing change that employees would accept and follow.

For each core business process, we assigned a business owner who would diagnose the processes at each site and help define and implement changes. Then the Information Systems team would create the system design, implementation and management needed to support the solution.

This article was originally published on 2011-01-28
In Jacques Playe’s role as CIO, Operations, at L'Oréal, he is responsible for providing IT leadership and guidance to achieve global manufacturing operational excellence. Playe is tasked with ensuring that the highest quality and production standards are attained while manufacturing 4.9 billion units within 23 global brands across 38 production sites.
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