Lean Manufacturing helps Gas Company

The customer
Founded in 1976 our client is one of the largest Australian owned industrial, medical and specialty gas companies. They have over 220 employees across seven locations and quality and service are central to everything they do.

They know that people play an essential part in achieving company objectives and are committed to developing a high performance workforce and a culture of honesty, innovation, empowerment and commitment.

Excellent Outcomes at a Glance

  • Productivity: 53% time gain in filling bay
  • Safety: Safety performance improved by 73% and now below industry average
  • Quality: Rejects reduced by 71.5%
  • People: 10% Increase in employee engagement

The challenge
Producing a broad variety of gasses means a large volume of gas cylinders are transported around the site daily. The number of accidents and manual handling injuries was growing and that meant workers were being injured and compensation premiums increasing.

The annual staff engagement survey also uncovered declining employee engagement rates that management was eager to improve.

In a slowing market, the pressure is constant to reduce prices while maintaining service levels. “In order to remain competitive we needed to find some efficiencies in our manufacturing process,” said the National Operations Manager.

They selected Corporate Partners to work with them on a business transformation program because of their reputation and deep knowledge of Lean Manufacturing.

The solution – Lean Manufacturing
Management was aware of the need to maximise customer value while minimising waste. They realised that by implementing Lean Manufacturing they could achieve this. They were impressed by the pragmatic and hands-on approach that Corporate Partners took. They worked alongside the team members and listened to their ideas, always providing the guidance and knowledge needed. Corporate Partners were keen to ensure the team took ownership of the program so it became embedded in the company’s DNA. “Corporate Partners have been a great Lean Manufacturing partner, they have worked with us at every step of the way, ensuring we navigated the hurdles and achieved our goals,” said the National Operations Manager.

In the early stages of the Lean Manufacturing project Corporate Partners introduced Mini Business Teams and Visual Workplace Boards. The weekly training was conducted on-site in each team area, using the data from their workplace. This approach ensured the training was relevant and the project achieved employee buy-in. Every staff member could see they had an opportunity to change their workplace and contribute to the improvements.

An example of the innovation this inclusive approach has delivered is the 53% time gain achieved in the Loading and Filling bay. This has been reported as the best innovation at the client for over 25 years. “The time and cost savings the transformation project has delivered are impressive,” said the National Operations Manager.

Value Stream Mapping helped the business to identify processing bottlenecks. As part of the project, they performed some spaghetti diagrams to map the movements of gas bottles. They found hundreds of bottles being moved to a machine on a daily basis, it made more sense to move the machine to the gas bottles, which saved time and eliminates the risk of injury.

The client was impressed with the enthusiasm that staff demonstrated for 5S. Workplaces became cleaner and tidier, with equipment cleaned and tools easier to find. Employees even came in on weekends to paint their areas and shadow boards, the result was impressive.

Lean Manufacturing Results
The management team recognise that a Lean Manufacturing project doesn’t have a start and end date, for it to be effective a drive for continual improvement is required. “It’s been a complete transformation for our business, from the Leadership team to the floor staff in behaviour and culture, Lean is embedded into our DNA thanks to the hands-on approach the Corporate Partners consultants have taken,” said the National Operations Manager.

Mini Business Teams continue to meet every day for 5 to 10 minutes and for 30 minutes every Thursday. The project has proven that giving employees a voice produces impressive productivity, engagement and safety improvements. The client recently achieved the highest results in a recent employee engagement survey which can be attributed to the Lean program.

The safety improvements are impressive too, daily meetings have increased awareness around safety. “Than