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Johnson Controls Ghent

Xavier Quesada Allué & Diego Quesada-Allué

2 Dec 2015

Using Vima to eliminate waste at car factory

Agile Project at Johnson Controls: Reducing scrap with Scrum

Executive summary

Johnson Controls Assenede builds car seats for Volvo's models XC60, S60 and V40. In October 2015, scrap costs had raised to €30.000/month. A cross-departmental Scrum team was trained and coached by Agilar consultants. By December 2015, scrap was reduced in 10% - saving €3,000/month. Additionally, other positive outcomes of applying Scrum arose.

Keywords Scrum – Agile – Automotive – Scrap reduction


Scrum is a project management framework ideally suited for projects with high uncertainty. Agile methods like Scrum can be applied to any project effort to deliver improved results in ever evolving business environments (Mac Iver, 2009). Agile development revolutionized the software industry. The same management process revolution, potentially a critical competitive advantage, is now coming inexorably to manufacturing (Denning, 2012). 

Johnson Controls is a global technology and industrial leader serving customers in more than 150 countries, specializing in building efficiency, batteries and energy storage, and automotive seats. With  80,000+ employees working at 220 locations in 34 countries, Johnson Controls is the world’s leading car seat manufacturer, providing complete automotive seat systems to every major automaker worldwide. Johnson Controls continually seeks new tools, processes and technologies to enhance operational and manufacturing excellence.


Johnson Controls Assenede plant is located 20km north of Gent, Belgium. At Assenede 19,170 seat sets are produced each month for Volvo's models XC60, S60 and V40. Concerned about high levels of scrap, Agilar was asked to supply training and coaching for a project team to tackle the problem applying Scrum.

Agilar provided Scrum training and guidance through the Inception and Execution phases. Over the Inception phase the team clarified the goal, defined user stories and agreed over definition of ready and definition of done. The goal was set to reduce 10% scrap in 3 months. The team performed seven one-week sprints during the Execution phase. At the end, a review and retrospective meeting took place. Initial feedback from the team was gathered through a survey, which was used as input for the retrospective held on the 18th of December.


The Scrum pilot project contributed to reduce 10% scrap at Johnson Controls Assenede, saving €3,000/month - providing a return over investment on consulting time in 5.66 months. At the same time, other benefits were perceived. Although there were some issues that should need attention in future -such as low availability of the team and the impact of participating in the project on regular day-to-day work- there was a positive general impression of the Scrum framework. Positive feedback was based on good collaboration between different departments, cross functional teams, a structured way of working, fast feedback, visual management, and priorities being clear and focused on.

“Scrum is a good way to address problems in a systematic way. I think it will have a positive change in the way of working” (Lieven, Quality).

“Doing small sprints per week makes it more feasible and by having everyday small meetings you keep track and you make progress” (Yves, Logistics).


Mac Iver, Robbie (2009), “Scrum Is Not Just for Software”, Scrum Alliance. [Accessed 29 February 2016]

Denning, Steve (2012), ‘‘How Agile can transform manufacturing: the case of Wikispeed’’, Strategy & Leadership, Vol 40, No 6, pp22-28.

About Agilar

Agilar is a consulting firm based in Ghent, Belgium, with offices in Spain and Argentina. Agilar provides Scrum trainings and coaching in Europe and Latin America.

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