The structure and organisation of production of Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) with small-batch manufacturing still contains much potential for improvement. Often, long throughput times, high stocks and organisational overheads are noticeable at these companies. High productivity and flexibility is required in order to stay competitive with low-wage countries in Eastern Europe and the Far East. Realisation of the required productivity and flexibility in a small-batch environment demands an intensive and integrated exploitation of both human resources and modern production techniques. To quickly identify these improvements in a company, a benchmark tool has been developed in the BETTI-project. This benchmark tool measures the performance of the company against companies in the same field that are regarded as good performers so that the potential for improvements in a company can be clearly identified. The database was used to select reference material to compare the performance of companies. To complete the database approximately 100 companies throughout Europe were benchmarked.
The project Co-ordinator, Berenschot was the designer of the benchmarking tool BETTI - the other participants were six consultancies and one university from seven member states, who each carried out 'field trials' of BETTI on samples of between 10 and 20 SMEs within their countries. This consortium structure worked well, with each of the consultancies operating as a mini-project in a different country, but maintaining good lines of communication through regular meetings.
BETTI is seen as a powerful tool for benchmarking, which could be applied widely in manufacturing industries across the EU. All the SMEs who took part in the project were said to have assessed the experience positively. Some promotional material to help disseminate BETTI has already been produced in English, Dutch, German and Swedish and is on file. The project can be judged a success in that many companies who participated in the trial have continued to utilise the service, but now this is on a commercial basis.