ABB Flips the Switch

ABB manufactures low-voltage circuit breakers in over 10,000 possible configurations. Products relevant to safety are subject to the highest standards of quality.


The project at a glance


Electric switches do not only protect against short circuits: They are becoming ever more complex and also play a role in energy management in highly automated systems.


Market leader ABB wants to expand its lead. To do so, the technology company is banking on top quality and wants to learn from the automotive industry.


A strategy for greater quality, fewer errors, and fewer customer complaints. In addition to production, the product development, suppliers and customer service were also taken into account.


The market leader expands its lead

When a market leader wants to further improve the “OK rate” of its products, it’s a high bar to clear. The circuit breakers from the global technology company ABB are used in automated systems and building technology. In these applications, they have to function effectively and flawlessly because they protect personnel and equipment against excess voltage and short circuits, and also play a role in the increasingly important field of energy management. The rising complexity and variety of variants are added challenges. For ABB, quality is a strategic objective and is pursued with a focus that befits its importance. At its plant in Frosinone, Italy, ABB has established a pilot project for world-class quality with the support of Porsche Consulting

"Our goal was to raise the quality to a new level and learn from other in-dustries that are also quality-driven."
Andrea Menti
Head of Operations, Electrification Business Area
ABB Group
Andrea Menti, ABB


Mixed Teams from Assembly to Management

For strategies to become lived realities, getting employees involved is crucial. Mixed teams from different areas – from final assembly to management – worked in pilot areas to achieve quality improvements in production, product creation and customer service. Later, they were able to handle the rollout and in other areas themselves. Indeed, even beyond the boundaries of the company itself: “Our teams have taken the tools that we learned about in six-week projects in our collaboration with Porsche Consulting and applied them at our suppliers’ locations as well. The aim was not just to achieve a higher quality level, but also to boost productivity,” says ABB manager Andrea Menti.


increase in the “OK rate” was achieved – despite being at a high level already.


From Italy to the Whole World

A successful strategy is defined by concrete results: Just a short time later, the number of customer complaints, which had already been low before that, decreased significantly yet again – by 20 percent. The rate of flawless products, the “OK rate,” actually went up by 40 percent. Italy was just the start – next up was China. Andrea Menti: “We’re rolling out the quality-improvement process worldwide.” 


Consulting that works

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Dirk Pfitzer
 Industry Lead Industrial Goods