Lean Manufacturing helps to Embed a Culture of Business Improvement

This family-owned company manufacturers specialist processing systems for the mining industry. The company experienced a period of rapid growth and brought in Corporate Partners to help smooth the way. With increasing orders it was essential that the company reduce rework, improve on-time delivery, and implement an effective system for overall business improvement. It was recognised that Lean Manufacturing would help them to achieve their goals.

Manufacturing the specialist mine systems presents a number of challenges. The systems have many standard components, however, each system is custom designed and built to meet the specific requirements of the individual mine site. The company designs, assembles and test the systems, and then disassembles them for transport to the mine locations.

Excellent Outcomes at a Glance

  • Quality: Reworks reduced by 70%
  • Quality: Employees each average >1 business improvement monthly
  • Delivery: On-time delivery improved from 85% to 100%
  • Delivery: Ongoing reductions in lead-time
  • Safety: No lost time injuries for two years
  • Safety: Employees each average >3 proactive safety improvements monthly
Corporate Partners worked through all aspects of the business – laboratory, finance, electrical, product design, marketing, warehousing and despatch – to deliver business improvements. They involved all levels of management – corporate, team leaders and shop floor – to ensure all activities were aligned with the whole business view.

They set up Mini Business Teams each with their own visual board for charting their performance in terms of Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost and People. The visual boards displayed the corporate KPIs as well as the team targets, so teams could see how they were contributing to the business KPIs.

Mini Business Teams were empowered to make positive changes. The teams identified problems, decided how they were going to fix them, and then (with the help of Corporate Partners) applied the appropriate lean tools to solve the problems.

Lean Manufacturing Results

With all teams focused on quality, delivery, safety and savings, the following was achieved:

• Employees averaged more than one business improvement* each month
• Rework was reduced by 70%
• On time delivery went from 85% to 100%
• Employees identified more than 300 safety improvements a month
• All levels of the business are now working to a system with clear performance measures that they review and address on a daily, weekly and monthly basis

* The teams worked in their respective areas to identify key measures, set targets and to record and act when targets were missed. Corrective actions targeting the root cause were recorded when an item was satisfactorily closed. Employees were averaging more than one corrective action (business improvement) each monthly.

mini business team visual board

A team member proudly presents his mini business team’s visual board during the weekly walk around.

“[Corporate Partners] are not implementing tools for the tools’ sake. They look at our problems and how we’re going to fix them and then apply the lean tools needed to get where we want to go.”

Through the Corporate Partners’ process the company succeeded in reducing rework by 70% and in cutting lead times.

Employees are empowered to raise corrective actions to meet targets. They average more than one corrective action monthly.


Safety has become so embedded in the company’s culture that employees routinely identify safety improvements. Employees average more than three safety improvements monthly.