Novozyme Leverages Results Oriented Maintenance and Highly Motivated Staff to Win the North American Maintenance Excellence (NAME) Award 2000

Novozymes North America, Franklinton, North Carolina, a company with Scandinavian roots and management style won the coveted North American Maintenance Excellence Award (NAME) 2000.

A reporter (Michael Lippig) recently paid Owe Forsberg, Maintenance Manager, Novozymes North America, a visit to see how this came about.

How it Started

Novozymes did not actively pursue benchmarking in the past. “For a long time our organization was introspective. We thought we had everything we needed in house and that we could do it all ourselves” continues Mr. Forsberg.

“In 1999, we set a goal to benchmark ourselves against other industries, to get an outside perspective.” It was in this context that the organization decided to apply for the name award.

Owe and his team completed a very lengthy and arduous application in 1999. After a preliminary evaluation, finalists were visited by the NAME board of directors for a full on-site evaluation. “The feedback from the on-site review, provided us with a very detailed report including our strengths and weaknesses,” explained Mr. Forsberg.

The auditors listed 19 unique strengths in three predetermined areas; organization, work processes and materials management.

To be sure, the audit team also identified several areas of improvement, an aspect that, according to Mr. Forsberg turned out to be one of the biggest boons from the NAME Award process.

Novozyme was officially awarded the prize during the high profile “National Manufacturing Week” in Chicago in March 2001.

The Company

Novozymes is a leading multinational manufacturer and marketer of liquid and granulated enzymes for food, liquor, wine, brewing, and dairy products with manufacturing facilities in US, Denmark,  Brazil, China and Switzerland.

The US manufacturing facility is located about 25 miles north of Raleigh, in Franklinton, North Carolina and employs about 430 people, 40 of which are in maintenance.

The plant and administration encompass a 450,000 square feet facility, including five production buildings situated on 45 acres.

Maintenance is a combination of central resources for planning, engineering purchasing, stores and predictive maintenance and area based flex i-skilled mechanical and electrical instrumentations technicians.

There are two areas, each lead by a group leader supervising both mechanical and electrical/instrumentation technicians. “We don’t expect an electrician or mechanic to learn another trade” Mr. Forsberg explains.

“Rather each craft is expected to learn bridge-tasks from other craft to complement their main craft skills. The guys like that because it makes them more rounded, gives them better training opportunities and makes them more valuable” says Mr. Forsberg.

Previously Novozymes was a division of the Danish based pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, but become an independent company Jan 1st, 2000.

The Scandinavian heritage has clearly marked the leadership style and culture with consensus based decision-making and obsession for partnerships at all levels.

Yet, the organization shows a clear bias to personal accountability and also appears to be driven by hierarchical top-to-bottom structure of regularly revised goals and an activity driven budget process. Together, they seem like a perfect match of American and Scandinavian values.

Over the years the role of maintenance has become more business focused and now Novozyme offers a set of services to their clients as part of their product offering.

Some of these services are performed by maintenance.

The purpose is to provide such a superior product-service package that the client will not even consider other suppliers.

Novozymes Leverages Results Oriented Maintenance TM and Highly Motivated Staff to Win the North American Maintenance Excellence (NAME) Award 2000

Building the Organization

Owe Forsberg took the maintenance helm over 5 years ago.

At this time, the organization was already in transition from reactive maintenance and a more traditional consensus based leadership style, to proactive maintenance and a multiple-level partnership driven structure relying on autonomous self-driven people at every level.

Mr. Forsberg quickly adds that the people of the organization are behind the success. “All our people are really motivated and smart,” he says.

The organization adopted Results Oriented Maintenance TM’s maintenance productivity circle, which later morphed into “the maintenance triangle”, as their modus operandi and set goals to achieve excellence in each of its discrete areas (see below).

These goals are summarized in maintenance’s mission statement:

“To reach world class reliability and maintenance status, defined as showing excellence within the maintenance triangle”.

Maintenance Planning, Technical Information, Production Planning, Continuous Improvement, Maintenance Scheduling, Production Coordinator, Analyze, record results, training, Accomplish Work

Since ROM builds on common sense, simplicity and a focus on core maintenance activities, the philosophy is a “hand and glove fit” with Novozymes culture.

The transition from reactive to truly proactive maintenance had several distinct steps or levels according to Mr. Forsberg.

The plant has transitioned from an “operate to failure” approach in the early 90s through to basic “fixed time replacements” and ”continuous improvement” to “continuous improvement in 2000.

Since then, the company has successfully tackled the next level “Design for reliability” by incorporating life cycle (maintenance) cost data and feed back from multidisciplinary groups in replacing and standardizing equipment. “We were inspired to tackles some of these tasks by the NAME award” says Mr. Forsberg.

Mr. Forsberg was born and raised in Sweden. He spent the first nine years of his career in the merchant marine, first as an apprentice, then, after earning a degree in marine engineering, as a marine engineer.

He then joined the maintenance consulting firm Idhammar Konsult AB and eventually transferred to their US subsidiary, IDCON, in Raleigh, North Carolina. When starting a family, he opted for a fixed place of work with Novozymes (then Novo Nordisk Biochem) in 1991. He earned a M. Sc. in management from NC State in 1996.

The merchant marine experience gave Mr. Forsberg a solid grounding in mechanical and electrical disciplines with both theory and practical experience.

“The maintenance management consulting business helped me understand how to implement concepts, and setup systems in a people environment such as maintenance” explained Mr. Forsberg.

Owe Forsberg, Maintenance Manager, Novozymes

Owe Forsberg, Maintenance Manager, Novozymes

Mr. Forsberg credits the goal setting structure, consensus based culture, the drive, quality and leadership of the people with driving many and making other changes possible.

He again cites employee involvement, commitment, a culture valuing excellence and partnerships along with strong corporate and plant management support for maintenance as key factors in developing the maintenance organization and clinching the prize. “…it’s not enough to set goals for yourself and your department, you must also actively support the goals of others and the organization.” says Mr. Forsberg.

A Bright Future…

Winning the award has been a tremendous help to maintenance and the whole organization. “Before, no one knew who we were.”

Now Novozymes are mentioned in the same breath as many of the other high profile winners including Eastman Kodak, Ciba Geigy, US Steel, A.K. Steel Corp., R.J. Reynolds Marathon Ashland Petroleum, Nippon Denso, Texas Instruments, International Paper, and Buckeye Florida.

The rich detail of the on-site assessment and access to the confidential information about the previous winners has provided Novozymes with a virtual treasure chest of best practices and an instant network of peers with whom they can consult on tactic and strategic maintenance issues.

Since the Award, additional improvements have already been implemented and many more will be added in the future if we have gauged Owe and his team right.

While Novozymes up until now has been a silent achiever, the spotlight is now firmly trained on this vibrant organization and their future. For more information see

The North American Maintenance Excellence (NAME) Award

The NAME award is jointly sponsored by Plant Engineering Magazine, American Institute of Plant Engineers, and Reed Exhibition Companies It is awarded annually to North American Plants that “…excel in maintenance practices to enable operational excellence.”

There are three classes and up to three organizations can share the award in each of the classes; process, discrete manufacturing and service industry. The award supports the following objectives:

  • Increase the awareness of maintenance as a competitive edge in cost, quality service and equipment performance.
  • Identify industry leaders, potential future leaders and highlight best practices.
  • Share successful maintenance practices and the benefits from implementing them.
  • Understand the need to manage change to achieve maintenance excellence.
  • Enable operations excellence.

Since 1990 when the first prize was awarded, there has been about 60 applicant fighting for this award.

The award is given to a facility and since there are minimum standards for applicants, not every year and category produces a winner. In fact, only 13 of the possible 30 (x3) winners have been named since inception.

For more information see

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Picture of Michael Lippig

Michael Lippig

Senior Consultant - IDCON, Inc.

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