Ideas from employees at BMW Group’s Oxford Mini plant in England have saved £10.5 million in the past two years.

Every employee has a target of implementing three ideas a year to improve the business. 11,064 ideas were put into practice from a total of 14,333 submitted in 2003, an 80% implementation rate. The suggestions ranged from simple things such as saving unnecessary paper through to more complex engineering solutions to improve production processes like the development of a new overhead assister to enable equipment to be fed through the body shell as it moves through the paint shop.

A ‘Working in Groups’ initiative, part of a wider programme of change management, has created more than 200 teams of between eight and 15 people each with the power to tackle a range of production issues. Each month, the production line is stopped for 90 minutes to allow the teams to put forward new ideas and review plans to implement existing suggestions.

Plant managing director Tony Heiss said: “I am very pleased with the results achieved which exceeded the plant’s 2003 target. We have moved away from a strongly directive management style to a much more autonomous team working approach. This places the achievement of plant improvement targets directly into the hands of our employees and has made a real difference to the business.”

Savings of over £43 million were achieved in 2003 from similar schemes throughout BMW’s global network of 24 production plants in 15 different countries.