Get to know Eurofins Genomics.
We are introducing our experts! This edition introduces Moritz Straßburger, the lean manager at Eurofins Genomics.
Hi Moritz, welcome to the interview.
Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Tell us a little bit about you. How long have you been working for Eurofins Genomics?
I work for Eurofins Genomics since beginning of 2018.
What is your education?
I studied energy economics, which is a combination of energy engineering and business administration, and focused on the topic of lean management during my internship semester. I really enjoyed it and thus did my Bachelor thesis on lean management. Here, I worked on the reduction of the turnaround time (TAT) of the next generation sequencing (NGS) service INVIEW Human Exome at Eurofins Genomics.
That’s interesting. Usually, students do their Bachelor thesis at the university. How come you decided to go to the industry sector, specifically to Eurofins Genomics?
From the beginning, I wanted to do my Bachelor thesis at a company, so it would have a practical application. Also, this
was a good opportunity to get a foot in the door at a company and to get to know it.
With regards to Eurofins Genomics, it was quite funny how I learned about the company. I bumped into a Eurofins Genomics employee whom I already knew at a party and he suggested visiting the company. So, I did and liked it here a lot. I applied for a position to do my Bachelor thesis, and, thereafter, I was employed right away as lean manager.
The great thing about lean management is that is applicable in virtually every sector.
What is lean management? What constitutes lean management?
Lean management was developed by Taiichi Ohno at Toyota Motor Corporation. His aim was to remove all unnecessary activity (“muda” the Japanese word meaning uselessness) from production. Only the value-adding processes are executed and everything else is omitted in order to shorten processing time and add more value.
How is lean management implemented at Eurofins Genomics?
Lean management can be implemented in all areas, even in the administrative areas. At the moment, lean management is mainly implemented in production at Eurofins Genomics.
It all starts with goals that a department wants to achieve. Then, we carry out a value stream mapping, where we visualise a process including the time that is needed for the different steps of the process. This is followed by an analysis, called waste observation, of waiting times or other wastefulness during the process. Finally, we implement appropriate measures to counteract this wastefulness.
For lean management, there are three objectives that always should be achieved:
1. Reduction of turnaround time (TAT),
2. Increase of turnaround time reliability (TATR), and
3. Cost reduction.
In the lab for instance, we aim to standardise and systematically optimise the work space by compartmentalising different areas of the bench. An important aspect is removing of things that are not really used and just block space. It is important to involve the people and to ask questions. How do you do it? Why do you do it this way? Have you thought about doing it differently? And to show best practise examples! In the end, lean management aims to make the everyday work easier.
What is your motivation to work for Eurofins Genomics?
It is very exciting that we have a lot of young and dynamic teams with many highly motivated people. The biotechnology service business is a fast-paced business that is strongly market-driven. Products and services have to be faster and more cost-effective with a consistently good quality. Priorities can change within months and different things become important. I enjoy this fast-pace and interacting with different people. At the end of the day, there is a result, something that was improved, made faster, made more robust, and, which is of particular interest for me, I am not at my office desk all the time. My work requires me to be at site where lean management is going to be implemented.
A lot of work could mean a lot of stress. How do you manage to keep your cool when it gets stressful?
When a situation gets very stressful, I found it to be best to have a short break. During this time, I organise my thoughts and go back with new strength. That’s it. Very simple.
Let’s get to know a little more about you. What’s your morning routine? How do you start into your day?
I start every morning the same way. I am a creature of habit. I get up, take a shower, brush my teeth and I am out of the door and on my way to work. It takes around 15 minutes.
When I reach work, I start my PC in the office and while it boots, I get a coffee. Then I am ready to face the day.
How do you spend your spare time?
I am a brass instrumentalist. I play the trombone at several groups, which is a quite time-consuming hobby. Music in general is a big part of my life. I go to a lot of concerts.
I also like to see football games at the stadium. At the weekends, I sometime play football at the local old boys team (*laughs).
How come? You are just 27 years old, aren’t you (*laughs).
Yes, but playing in the old boys team gives me more flexibility. If I can make it, it’s great. If I can’t, it’s still alright. But I have to mention that it can be very competitive during these games. After all, the players all want to win (*laughs).
Are there any books you enjoyed and would recommend?
Even after 20 years, I am still a big fan of the Harry Potter books. I like them a lot. I recommend giving the audio books a shot. It is a whole different experience.
At the moment I listen to the audio book version of Edward Snowden’s autobiography called “Permanent Record”. It’s very interesting to learn about the work of intelligence services.
Thank you for giving us a little insight into your work and your life.
You are welcome. It was fun.
Simple and sweet lean management tips for the lab:
1. In line with the lean management workplace organisation method, sort and remove all items at your bench, and the lab in general, that do not necessary have to be there or are used on a regular basis. For instance, you can find solutions or devices at the bench that are rarely used and only consume space and contribute to a cluttered bench. The saying that “If your desk is a mess, you’re probably a genius” does not necessarily apply. A neat and tidy bench could contribute to your productivity.
2. Allocate specific spaces on your bench for specific devices, equipment, consumables, etc. and define these spaces with coloured adhesive tape. These spaces are called shadow boards. The aim is to organise the bench for greater efficiency and control. This way, the devices, equipment, consumables, etc. are always available and you will not waste time or lose your nerves searching for these items, especially at times when you need to work quickly.
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