Rinnai NZ: Keeping their competitive edge

Company profile

Rinnai is the world’s most innovative heating appliance manufacturer and widely regarded as the global industry leader. That status didn’t come overnight. It’s the result of the company’s focus on continually improving their products and business at every level.

Rinnai’s New Zealand subsidiary is no different. They began using Promapp not in reaction to obvious inefficiencies or issues, but because they saw it as a tool that would help them continue to be better now and in the future.

As Rinnai’s Quality Assurance Manager Kevin Sherlock sees it, improvement is inherent and essential to the business. “The Japanese culture says we’ve got to keep improving because our competitors are. If we sit back, we won’t be the company we are in ten years.”

A Kaizen approach? “Let me put it this way,” says Kevin: “Our company chairman lives on the same street as Mr Toyota.”

Clawing back time

Promapp was used to align, streamline and centralise processes throughout the organisation. It’s usability had immediate effect on the financial department particularly says Helen Worsop, the company’s financial controller.

Promapp also helps Rinnai make sure they stay ISO 9001 compliant - it saves time, effort and disruption during an audit. New staff are onboarded much more quickly – Promapp is so simple to use, staff can all but train themselves.

Kevin says Promapp’s sheer simplicity compared to other systems has netted them time savings. “Then there’s the amount of effort you put into keeping a process up to date. With Promapp, it’s simple. It doesn’t take hours like it does with Visio.”

“Now, rather than spending time explaining a process, all the relevant information we need is instantly available in the Promapp library. We have achieved time and cost savings – efficiency gains that came about as Promapp helped us identify steps that were no longer required.”

Healthier and safer every day

Unsurprisingly, those efficiencies weren’t the end of the story for Rinnai NZ and their culture of improvement.

Kevin saw an opportunity to use Promapp to make health and safety and risk management an unconscious part of the day-to-day business, at every level. Doing so wouldn’t just better protect the business and its people, there would also be the inevitable efficiencies. With information no longer “tucked away in dusty folders”, people were no longer surprised by reports that demanded improvements or changes in their work.

“We might do an internal audit on whether we were following existing processes and how to improve. Reported on paper, that relies on you to remember the changes, and for managers to remember to remind you. Promapp makes that information available all the time.” That, he says, means that recording improvements on Promapp has made managing risks a natural, gradual part of their work. “People didn’t know what was expected of them. Now they can check to see what’s on the list to do. It’s more dynamic; the system can be updated as soon as someone spots something.”

Because everyone’s better informed and they can easily access up-to-date processes, information managers can spend less time overseeing staff. Kevin says it allows for more delegation – which is not just good for managers, it also gives staff room to take on more responsibility and grow in their roles.

“It spreads the load a little and makes life a little bit easier – I’m all for that.”

Better board oversight, better business

The company’s board also appreciates being able to review information from Promapp more quickly. Understandably, health and safety is a key focus, as is risk management.

By reviewing the same data as their people the board gets a clear, unfettered view – and a great deal of comfort. “We’re all using the same information. They get the raw data, so they know for sure that they’re seeing the real picture.” He says the board is also now better armed to be proactive and “apply downward pressure.”

“It’s had a real impact on the business. They’ve got better info, so they’re asking better questions.”safety is a key focus, as is risk management. By reviewing the same data as their people the board gets a clear, unfettered view – and a great deal of comfort.

“We’re all using the same information. They get the raw data, so they know for sure that they’re seeing the real picture.” He says the board is also now better armed to be proactive and “apply downward pressure.” “It’s had a real impact on the business. They’ve got better info, so they’re asking better questions.”

Continuous improvement to stay ahead of competitors

Fundamentally, Kevin sees Promapp as a system that helps engage staff and embed that culture of improvement, from the shop floor to the board room – something that will help Rinnai maintain its leadership position.

“And to improve things, we have to know what we’re doing today, so we can do it better tomorrow.”

“We’re in a competitive market and the competition is always looking for ways to get a step ahead of us. This is a tool for us to put pressure back on them. If we can improve more than the competition, we can maintain our leadership position.” 

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