Team Ownership of Lean Initiatives, Drives Sustainable Improvement
New owners had taken on a pipe manufacturing business that had been operating successfully for 75 years. These new owners were committed to investing in Lean processes and recognised the need for Lean training and engaging human resources to realise the benefits of their investment.
The business had 200 employees and a production cycle running 24/7 in four shifts. However, staff members were simply coming to work each day, doing their shift and then going home. They did not own the processes and were not empowered to identify and implement improvements.
The business had a top-down approach. For example, only management were authorised to “pass” or “fail” non-conformances so production could grind to a halt when management were not on site. Similarly, operators were not the authorities for defining and classifying scrap and “scrap” was costing the business significantly.
Corporate Partners was retained to provide Competitive Management Training and to identify improvement initiatives at all levels of the organisation. They brought their toolbox of proven programs (5S, VWM etc) and worked with managers and team leaders to tailor the programs to suit the organisation’s specific needs.
As hands-on instructors Corporate Partners chose to minimise the ‘classroom’ sessions and conducted training in the relevant space of the workplace. Rather than training instead of working, teams were training while they were working.
The Corporate Partners’ approach sees workplace teams becoming fully involved in the process and helping set KPIs, production standards and safety guides. The plan is to guide understanding and inspire thinking. Teams grow to understand not just what they are doing but why they are doing it. Everything is measured and recorded, and can be scrutinised and discussed.
Team leaders are actually leading changes rather than relying on management to “hold their hands” and set protocols and initiatives. They are taking charge of identifying issues and goals. They are making sure things happen and delivering their projects.
Teams have been taught how to learn and teach each other, so the improvement programs are sustainable evolving with the needs of the organisation.
Specifically, the shop floor team were given training on quality standards with clear criteria and then empowered to make on-the-spot calls on whether products should be available for sale or taken off the line. The on time and in full KPIs improved instantly.
Operators were made the ultimate arbiters for defining and categorising scrap, and for deciding how it was recorded and dealt with. The operators own the system; they created it and manage it. Once everyone was on the same page regarding scrap, they were able to reduce it by roughly 25%.
Where previously management set the rules on Manual Handling Tasks, teams were given specific tasks and were videoed actually performing these task. The teams then went through all the potential safety issues and created their own safety programs. Lost Time to Injury or medical treatment has been zero for 12 months.
Employee engagement increased significantly. In 12 months the business formally logged 2842 improvement suggestions, two-thirds relating to procedures.