Excellent results from the latest Lean programme

Lean Training

You may have thought that Lean process improvement was only relevant to manufacturing staff?

It has been our pleasure to train and mentor this group who completed the 2017 Spring training programme last week.

Let me introduce the group and briefly describe their results to date:

  • Louise works in Finance and managed to uncover potential savings of almost €40k per year from the process for contracted work.
  • Amanda works in Customer Service and used Lean to reduce UK backorders from 17% to 0.6% and fulfil 99.4% of all orders within 24 hours.
  • Kevin was our manufacturing representative and applied 5s, Kanban, SMED and Asset Care to improve the efficiency of his production area.
  • Rosie works in Finance and applied Lean thinking reduce reporting time for all sites from 3 days to 1 day and eliminated some significant system errors whilst doing so.
  • Thomas works in Supply Chain and applied Lean thinking with his team to achieve lead-time reductions from his Far East Supply base. His pilot programme with a key supplier has already yielded an 8-day improvement.
  • Denise works as PA to the General Manager and applied Lean thinking to reverse a downward trend in sales with Irish customers.
  • Christine works in Product Registration. Her project was to reduce the lead time of processing a new application request from the commercial team. Products requiring an updated GAP took 55 days.  – this is now estimated to take 15 days in future.
  • Nigel works in Estimation and has applied Lean thinking to increase output by 44% and reduced backlog by 46% to date.
  • Andy prepares orders for printing and has reduced orders in his area by 38% and increased the value-add time of his process from 40% to over 50% – a 25% increase in capacity!
  • One of the group was on holiday – Lorraine works in Finance and tackled the customer returns process. In 3 months, an additional 20% of returns costs have been reclaimed, the number of processed claims has increased by 20%, the number of outstanding returns in the Irish business is at a third of what it was at the start of the year and the aim is to reduce the overall process lead-time by 50%.

We are very proud of the improvements that this group have achieved in 3 months. The programme carries certification and their work will be submitted for a QQI award.

You may be interested in applying Lean thinking to your business and putting these ideas into place?

The ManagementWorks Lean Business programme will run this Autumn at various locations in Ireland.

Lean Click

Skillnets Lean training

Who is responsible?

We had another publicly highlighted case from our health service last week. It would be nice to think that the ‘individual responsible’ will be offered any support to deliver his or her recommendations to improve this situation. The political response suggests that the problem lies with individuals and doesn’t seem to question the process.

So what is the process? Whether it is a 91 year old patient or any other person in need of medical attention, is our process getting better or worse? Are the measures we use in our hospitals centred around patient care and patient outcomes?

Web healthcare

I had the pleasure of listening to David Fillingham in Cork recently. I learned that he had worked at Pilkingtons in St Helens (the location of my first post with Courtaulds in the UK) and joined the NHS in 1989. He spent 6 years as Chief Executive at the Royal Bolton Hospital where he introduced ‘lean’ principles to empower staff and involve patients to improve quality of care. I visited Bolton hospital a few years ago and spoke to staff involved in their lean programmes. Through Value Stream Mapping staff transformed outcomes for stroke patients. Collaborative work with new mothers helped re-design the maternity unit. Lab staff reduced the wait on test results from 24 hours to one hour to deliver quicker decisions on outcomes and release precious beds earlier.

Interestingly, David said that a lot more process engineering went into producing a windscreen at Pilkingtons than into the patient processes in the NHS. Unfortunately, the hard-working staff in our HSE are working with little support or budget to develop their processes. My view is that the best solutions to most issues come from the staff engaged daily in the processes in any organisation. They need a safe environment and supportive leadership to deliver great outcomes.

“A lot more process engineering went into producing a windscreen at Pilkingtons than into the patient processes in the NHS”

Learn more about Lean Business and current supports available at a free workshop in Dublin next Monday. The Lean Business Programme is run by Skillnets under the ManagementWorks initiative.

Lean Business

Monday, 16 November 2015 – 09:30 to 12:30
Talbot Hotel Stillorgan, Dublin

A FREE introduction to Lean Business and current supports available

Give your staff the right training and tools to deliver great results
Make a start with a Lean Business training programme
The Lean Business Programme is run by Skillnets under the ManagementWorks initiative. 

ManagementWorks logo full colour
ETAC will deliver the Dublin programme. The company delivered over 40% of the QQI/FETAC awards in Lean Tools in Ireland in 2014.

Participants reported significant impact on teamwork, quality and waste within their businesses and delivered an average return of €15,000 per project.

Register for the workshop

Is Lean Thinking for Everyone?

Lean Thinking: This question often comes up in Lean discussions. I think it has been best answered by W. Edwards Deming.

Lean Thinking described by William Edwards Deming.

He’s maybe a little harsh in saying that businesses may not know what they are doing. However, we would argue that without being able to describe what you do as a process, your clients are probably having a different experience of your product or service depending on who they are interacting with.

Imagine being recommended the roast duck at Emilio’s by a colleague when visiting her town. After relating your mediocre experience next day, she said, “Oh no, you should have waited until Thursday. That’s when Emilio himself comes in and he can make a mean roast duck”. Marvellous!

There’s also been much talk lately about ‘process’ in sports. If any team is unsure of the process, then improvements are simply trial and error as opposed to building on what has already been established as best practice.

So, can we describe Marketing as a process? Finance? Purchasing? Retail? Hospitality? Healthcare?

Lean Thinking in the Business

Our argument would be that any function in any business needs to be understood as a process.

The individuals in that organisation need a baseline process and those individuals need to be supported to improve that process.

Errors, Complaints and Accidents should all be viewed as feedback and opportunities to strengthen the process.

Staff should be encouraged not to accept errors. They should be encouraged to highlight when they are unable to perform their tasks effectively. Everyone should be encouraged not to pass on problems.

This is a brave undertaking for any management team, but it is the start of the Lean journey for everyone!

The ETAC Solutions Team

All-New Responsive ETAC Solutions Website

All-New Responsive ETAC Solutions Website

New Responsive ETAC Solutions Website Launched

This month saw the launch of the new ETAC Solutions website. We were quietly working on the new site and today we’re excited to officially launch it!

To make Lean training more accessible — among many of its new features — customers can book training courses on the Lean Six Sigma programmes, view all available programmes and course options, download Lean content and tips and share feedback of past Lean workshops.

We will be updating our blog with useful tips, advice and upcoming workshops — be sure to bookmark us!

Let us know what you think of the all-new responsive ETAC Solutions Website.

The ETAC Solutions Team

Skillnets Lean Business Programme and Dates

The Skillnets Lean Business Programme is already helping dozens of businesses in Ireland to reap the benefits of Lean business tools and Lean thinking. We use a proven combination of training and on-site mentoring to help you and your team members to understand Lean, build Lean skill sets within your business, and deliver one or more lean improvement projects from start to finish.

Who should participate?

Any manufacturing or service company where operational efficiency is a critical factor in success. Participants can be the business managers or front-line staff. You can select a team of up to four participants from your company. Each participant will deliver a process improvement project in their area of the business.

What does the programme consist of?

  • A twelve-week focused business impact programme
  • Eight half-day in-company mentored sessions working on the specifics of your business
  • Five practical one-day group workshops – all participating companies attend together
  • Learning is practical and dynamic
  • Participants will be encouraged to share and pool experiences so that delegates will benefit from ‘real life’ experiences

How will your business benefit?

Adopting Lean tools and techniques is a proven approach to business that is being embraced by an increasing number of organisations. Why? Because it is delivering serious competitive advantage to companies who engage in the process. Previous participants on our programmes are using Lean to deliver measureable improvements across a wide range of business outcomes, such as

  • Improved cash flow
  • Productivity
  • Waste reduction
  • Lead-times reduction
  • Employee engagement
  • Quality
  • Customer Service.

By participating in this programme, you and your team members will:

  • Develop a clear understanding and practical knowledge of the tools and practices underpinning Lean
  • Identify and deliver a project or suite of projects that will provide meaningful and measureable improvements for your business
  • Gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to be able to apply Lean principles, tools and techniques to other projects within your business

What is the cost of the programme?

The subsidised cost of the programme is €4,000 per company for up to 3 participants. This includes all training, mentoring, course materials, lunches and refreshments.
Where is this programme available?
This programme is available in locations throughout Ireland. See Skillnets programmes on the ETAC website for upcoming programmes and workshops.

New format FETAC / QQI courses from ETAC.

The level 5 “Lean Manufacturing Tools” programme will be run in a new format in 2015.

FETAC LogoIn the early 90’s the concept of Lean Manufacturing was introduced by Womack & Jones. The team studied the automotive industry at the time and found dramatic differences in performance and bottom-line profitability particularly between US and Japanese companies. They found best practice results at Toyota in japan.

The Toyota Production System is concerned with maximising value in any process and eliminating waste whilst transforming the value chain, the sequence of events that deliver the client requirements. The tools target improvement in quality, reliability, workplace organisation, and streamlining material and information flows.
This Level 5 programme is designed to give the delegates an overall knowledge of how to use these key tools. As part of the programme, the learner will apply the tools to an improvement project within their operation. The attendants will be presented with the concepts and techniques allowing to practically apply the tools by using simple exercises and modules.

This is a 5-day programme run over 12 weeks. All participants are required to deliver a Lean improvement project within their business. On successful completion of the course, candidates are awarded a Level 5 credit on the National Framework of Qualifications.


Course outline:
Task 1: Lean Thinking

Task 2: Project Charter

Task 3: Kaizen

Task 4: 8-step process improvement

Task 5: Value Stream Mapping

Task 6: Workplace Organisation (5s)

Task 7: Kanban

Task 8: Quick Changeover (SMED)

Task 9: Standard Work

Task 10: Asset Care (TPM)

Times: 9am till 5pm

For more information
please contact: ETAC Limited
PDC Centre,
Docklands Innovation Park,
128-130 East Wall Road,
Dublin 3
01 6856535

Enterprise Ireland Lean Business Offer 2015

Over 800 Lean projects have been supported to date by Enterprise Ireland.

484    LeanStart projects yielding an average savings of €55k

229   LeanPlus Plus programmes yielding an average savings of €145k

95       LeanTransform programmes delivering significant savings

Successful businesses have applied Lean strategies for many years to grow revenues, increase cash flow and reduce costs.

ETAC are on the Enterprise Ireland directory of service providers. Our team have developed LeanStart (up to €5000 grant of €6300 cost), LeanPlus (up to 50% of costs up to €75,000) and LeanTransform (up to 50% of costs of over €100,000) programmes from our years of experience implementing Lean with Irish and international clients.

ETAC have been providing Lean consultancy and training over the past 8 years to Irish businesses including Abtran, Accenture, Aer Lingus, Alps Ireland, Bank Of Ireland, Cargotec,Coca Cola, DAA Diageo, Digicom, Élan, Electro Automation, Element Six, Espion, Forest Tosara, GN Resound, Irish Distillers, Irish Examiner, JTI, Lexmark, MicroBio, Nightline, Pepsi, Rottapharm, Specsavers, Topaz, the Tech Group, United Drug, Wellman International,.
Cost  cash flow Revenue

Lean is a business philosophy that aims to continuously optimise the time between a client’s order and service delivery through the elimination of cost, complexity and time.
The approach is customer-focussed, process-focussed and time-focussed.

Enterprise Ireland Lean Business Offer

The Enterprise Ireland Lean Business Offer aims to encourage clients to adopt and imbed lean business principles in their organisation, thereby, leading to increased business performance, productivity and competitiveness.

There are three programmes on offer:

LeanStart LeanPlus LeanTransform

Why Choose ETAC?
Delivery Record Coaching Engineers Clients
ETAC have been helping clients to introduce lean techniques through training and consultancy since 2006. Our team are highly qualified and bring a wealth of practical business experience to each programme.
Phone Email


Phone: 01 6856535

E-Mail: sales@etacsolutions.com

PDC Centre,

Docklands Innovation Park,

128-130 East Wall Road,

Dublin 3

Top 10 lean tips for business transformation

1         Focus

Ensure that your lean program

a)      Delivers Customer Value

b)      Is aligned to your business strategy

c)       Delivers bottom line results – verified by your Financial expert!

2         Leadership

Your lean programme should be sponsored by senior leaders

They should be actively involved in the programme.

The programme should be reinforced through regular communications

3         Process Oriented

The lean approach is to systematically optimise your processes.

Begin by understanding your key processes and where value is being added.

The aim is to minimise or eliminate non-value adding process steps

4         Data Driven

Without data, you are left with opinions.

Make sure that all decisions taken to optimise processes are based on sound data.

This assists in taking the emotion out of key decisions and promotes acceptance

5         Performance Tracking and Accountability

Track performance and make results visible.

Real time data tracking is best.

Ensure all processes have key measures and review them regularly

Lean Business Transformation Team

6         Team Based Implementation

Ensure that effective teams are created to optimise processes.

Involve process owners.

Track team performance and reward success

7         Human resources

Ensure that your program is adequately resourced.

Bring in expertise if required.

Establish a proven training program for staff

8         Change Management

Lean programs question the ‘norm’

This can be difficult and involve changing established practices.

In this case, ensure that the team gives adequate attention to HR / Change Management.

9         Benchmarking

Visit other successful lean implementations.

Companies are often delighted to present their lean implementation.

Network with other companies implementing lean.

10     Don’t celebrate too early or give up too soon

Lean is a journey.

When you’ve optimised your process – start again!

The aim is to build a culture of continuous improvement

Start your Lean journey NOW

Not having a system could be eating your cash

We were working with our call centre client and looking at the task of processing claims. Unfortunately, in Ireland, many claims in this particular sector are submitted on paper forms. Our task was to map the process of approving these claims. We broke the process into small element steps and were in the process of timing a number of claims with the claim approver, Jenny. As is the norm with paperwork applications, we encountered a number of errors and missing information. This required Jenny to either make a phonecall, write an email or send a letter by post.

It was while Jenny was sending a letter that the absence of a reliable supply system came to light. Jenny was out of A4 envelopes and apologised as she now had to walk about 100 metres to the stationary store to get some more envelopes. Amazingly, in an office of over 200 staff, she came back empty handed and red-faced. “There are no A4 envelopes in the store – they’re due in tomorrow!”.

Luckily, Clare overheard the conversation and came to Jenny’s rescue. “You should have asked me. I’ve plenty under my desk” and she produced a pile of A4 envelopes. Later on, Paul, who sat beside Jenny, returned from a break. Jenny told Paul about the embarrassing episode with the envelopes (which increased the process step timing). “That wouldn’t have happened if I had been here” said Paul. “That has happened to me before – I always keep a store of envelopes under my desk”.

The thought occurred that there were probably more envelopes in that office than would be consumed in months. Anyone who had lost time in the past had now created their own ‘store’ in the absence of a reliable system. As soon as those envelopes come in tomorrow, Jenny was going to create her own store.

The solution was to implement a 2-bin kanban system. As most of the staff needed to print letters before using the envelopes, the 2-bin kanban ‘stores’ were located at each printer and serviced twice a day by the stationary suppliers.