Lean programme helps increase turnover by 100 per cent in 18 months

Cressall Resistors~ Success due to customer focused implementation ~ Leicester based Cressall Resistors has put in a place a lean programme, managed by manufacturing director Cy Wilkinson, that has helped increase turnover by 100 per cent in 18 months. It has also contributed to the successful integration of a business, valued at over a million pounds, into the company's Leicester facility. The resultant plant layout uses less floor space than the original did before the new company was integrated.

The fundamental strategy was formed through the use of eight lean tools: value stream mapping, 5S, standard work, flow, pull, TPM (Total Productive Maintenance), mistake proofing and set-up reduction. After producing a strategic plan, Wilkinson began the implementation process by providing uniforms for the manufacturing team and implementing a set of external lean training courses. These courses resulted in improved manufacturing efficiency and provided staff with the chance to obtain an NVQ Level two qualification. During the sessions, teams of five or six delegates focused on a particular area and carried out a kaikiaku (blitz) to deliver focused improvement, usually resulting in implementation of the first three 'S's (sort, straighten and shine) of 5S and a new layout to improve flow.

Cressall Resistors now has on ongoing training programme consisting of four day seminars attended by a cross-functional teams consisting of shop floor operatives, sales engineers, designers, planners, engineers and directors.

In order to improve sale to delivery times, Cressall tackled the 'order entry' to 'issue to manufacturing' part of its process. The company took a snapshot of the situation, using value streaming techniques, which highlighted areas of concern such as bottlenecks, delays and duplication of work and information, before developing ways to counteract these weaknesses. This has resulted in major improvements in contract review and file location, information consolidation, shop floor access to CAD files and purchasing.

The company also applied its lean strategy to the manufacturing process, which reduced used-space by more than sixty per cent; reduced part associated employee movement and implemented single piece flow to reduce WIP (Work In Progress). A Kanban was established to manage component inventory and the time needed to complete a physical stock-take was reduced by 50 per cent thanks to the 5S workplace organization.

"When I joined Cressall in June 2006, there had already been several attempts to roll out 5S and to implement flow, all with varying degrees of success," explained Wilkinson. "Though there was impetus from senior management, these earlier lean attempts failed due to lack of follow-up and buy in from the work force."   

As well as tackling the present, Cressall has also made plans for the future. There are a minimum of six lean events happening at the company in 2008, and a minimum of 24 employees who will go through the Business Improvement Techniques NVQ formal qualification.