Lean Manufacturing Helps Motivated Mini Business Teams Meet One-Day Ahead Target


The Australian operation of specialist hearing aid manufacturer, Bernafon, was paying costly overtime to meet the expected 5-day turnaround from patient consultation to fitting. Management set a “one-day ahead” production target believing that if they could produce hearing aids with a consistent four-day turnaround they could guarantee five-day delivery, and gain competitive advantage from the one-day buffer.

Excellent Outcomes at a Glance

  • Quality: Quality errors reduced from 5% to 2%
  • Cost: 100% reduction in overtime
  • Delivery: Achieved a guaranteed 5-day turnaround and a consistent 4-day turnaround
  • Delivery: Achieved 100% DIFOT on repairs
  • Productivity: Improved by 20%
Corporate Partners worked with managers and team leaders to define what “one-day ahead” meant and to discuss mechanisms for motivating and enabling staff to deliver on this schedule. Using a suite of Lean Manufacturing tools they began. First they set up Mini Business Teams (a vital Lean Manufacturing tool) within the internal supply chain and created “customer-supplier” agreements between the teams that set expectations for quantity and time of delivery.

Next they worked with the Mini Business Teams to identify the root causes for failing to meet these expectations, and they planned activities for addressing the issues. Activities included implementing 5S, cross training staff, and producing hourly delivery graphs so all team members could measure progress.

Bernafon internal supply chain

Corporate Partners created an internal supply chain of Mini Business Teams with each team having targets for safety, quality, delivery, cost and people.

Initially delivery to the Ear Mould Team was occurring as late as 4pm so the team could not get started till the next day.

With the new program the SLA team substantially improved delivery times to the Ear Mould Team.

Initially delivery to QC was occurring as late as 3pm making it impossible for QC to guarantee next-day delivery.

With the new program the cut-off time moved to 12pm and the QC team could guarantee next-day delivery.

Lean Manufacturing Results

With all teams working to the “one-day ahead” target, Bernafon has achieved:

  • Consistent 4-day turnaround and guaranteed 5-day delivery
  • A reduction in quality errors from 5% to 2%
  • 100% DIFOT for repairs
  • Productivity improvement of 20%
  • Overtime costs eliminated