Employees are the best consultants you’ll ever hire

Lean process improvement is a great way to engage your staff on what matters in your business.

If your staff are viewed as just another cost item, you may be missing a huge opportunity.

It has been our pleasure to train and mentor another group who completed the 2017 Autumn training programme this week. In just 12 weeks, they have applied standard process improvement techniques to deliver great results in their areas.

This brings the participant number through the 12-week ETAC programme to over 450.
Let me introduce the group and briefly describe their results to date:

• Zoila tackled a high incidence of inaccurate information on the company website leading to 30 customer complaints in 12 months. By applying lean tools including Asset Care, SMED and Standard work, complaints have been eliminated, the process to upload new and updated data is streamlined and a significant opportunity to reduce the lead time to launch new brands has been proposed.
• In 3 months, Eddie has re-organised the storage of many bulk chemicals on site. Using 5s, Asset Care, Standard Work and Kanban, appropriate storage has been identified and time to retrieve material has reduced. Cycle counts, segregation of flammable and toxic chemicals and management of shelf-life will all be monitored using a robust Asset Care Program.
• Damien tackled the time taken to mill bags of grain in the brewing process. Using the 8-step methodology, data analysis and Kaizen, the team have achieved a more consistent water flow rate and reduced milling time by 33%. The impact is estimated at one additional brew run per week.
• Stephen has reduced line downtime in his area from over 13% to less than 5% in 12 weeks. The application of 5s, Kanban, SMED, Standard Work and Asset Care will sustain this improvement and should lead to further improvements.
• Gerry tackled the cost of over-production and waste in his area. The weekly cost of over-production on one line alone was estimated at €3k. By applying the 8-step process improvement and engaging his team through Kaizen events, the team have reduced over-production from 26% to less than 5%. Process waste has reduced from 10% to approximately 4%.

• Stephen works in calibration and has planned to reduce total calibrations by 9%, remove 3% of gauges in operation and improve completion to schedule by 10%.
• With some simple process changes, Tom has already reduced the average daily water usage by 28%. With local water metering, policy proposals and some capital investment, the team are aiming for an overall reduction of over 50%.
• Cormac identified over 41% of lost utilisation time in one area of the plant. By addressing unauthorised access, workplace organisation, and SMED (quick changeover), the team aim to improve utilisation and sell extra capacity.
• Sean, an operator in one of the work areas, identified that 15% of the trials had significant time delays and loss of product. Cancellations alone cost the business in excess of €10k. With a simple test procedure, his team have reduced these incidents to 2.5%.
• Brian works on the manufacture of a highly engineered device. Over the 12 weeks, changes made by the team resulted in a 68% drop in rework and a corresponding 36% increase in output. The improvements also led to a significant reduction in lead-time.
• Claire tackled unscheduled maintenance and downtime in a critical manufacturing area. An analysis of issues led to a significant process change. Coupled with a preventative maintenance programme and a structured approach to troubleshooting, early indications show an impact on downtime of over 50%.

We are very proud of the improvements that this group have achieved in 3 months.

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

Engage your staff in what matters in your business today.

ETAC’s 12-week process improvement programme can be run in-house or offsite.

Enterprise Ireland and the IDA offer support to clients through their Lean Business programmes.

Click here for details.

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