The Lean Manufacturing Journey: Equipping Teams to Identify and Analyse Problems

This leading manufacturer of aluminium products had manufacturing sites on the East and West Coast of Australia. They had begun a Lean Manufacturing journey on the East Coast that was already realising benefits.

Implementing Lean Manufacturing in the West Australian operation presented a number of challenges. The initiative was handed down from East Coast-based management so there was a lack of ownership. To compound matters, the WA site had undergone management changes and there was a lack of management stability during the initial roll-out and morale was low.

Excellent Outcomes at a Glance

  • Cost: Saving $80k pa in warehouse scrap
  • Delivery: Packing productivity improved by 30kg per man-hour
  • People: Better communication, teamwork and morale
To address the issue of management stability, Corporate Partners assigned managers as sponsors in areas outside of their jurisdiction. The sponsors were involved with their sponsees on a daily basis.

They created Mini Business Teams (a Lean Manufacturing tool) and equipped them to identify and analyse problems and be part of the solution. The MBT-approach improved communication and helped build a sense of community and cooperation.

Corporate Partners provided Competitive Manufacturing training for Certificate III and Certificate IV participants. They offered a flexible training timetable to minimise disruption to production schedules.

The 5S process (another Lean Manufacturing tool) was introduced in the workplace. Some areas took to 5S very readily and started to jump ahead of the pack and ahead of the agreed process. These over enthusiastic participants had to be tempered and their focus maintained.

Results from Lean Manufacturing
Through regular meetings and problem solving activities, Mini Business Teams identified improvement opportunities and implemented solutions that realised savings in warehouse scrap of $80,000 annually.

MBTs improved packing productivity by 30kg per man-hour through implementing targets and providing daily measurement, monitoring and problem solving.

Implementing 5S has improved the layout and organisation of the plant, and creating Mini Business Teams and breaking down barriers between operational staff and management has improved communication and morale. There is a greater sense of community and unified purpose.