Mid-West Lean Network keeping members ahead of the curve


Pictured at the Mid-West Lean Network workshop held in Zimmer Biomet (from left): Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber; Seani Devlin, operational excellence program manager, Abbvie; Philip Rossiter, operational excellence manager, Coca Cola; and Dave Keane, senior director manufacturing, Ireland and UK, Zimmer Biomet. Photo by Eamon Ward.

Sharing best-in-class examples of lean deployment to showcase the value of continuous improvement in enterprise is the core of the Mid-West Lean Network’s raison d’etre.

Network events held recently in both Zimmer Biomet Shannon in association with LBS Partners, and in Shannon Airport House, in association with WrxFlo and LBS Partners, have emphasised the benefits and impact of deploying digital transformation and visual management to improve business performance.

Keynote speakers at the digital transformation event included Seani Devlin, operational excellence program manager with Abbvie and Philip Rossiter, operational excellence manager at Coca-Cola, whose companies are at different stages on their lean digitisation journeys.

A biopharmaceutical company employing approximately 2,600 employees across six sites in Ireland, including two separate plants in Sligo employing more than 400 staff, Seani Devlin operates from the company’s Balllytivnan manufacturing site, which is now a global centre of excellence for design control and precision engineering in the production of drug delivery devices.

Describing the company’s digitisation journey, from using spreadsheets in the 1990s to today, with technology now helping the company to make more informed decisions, he said: “Data is the keystone of continuous improvement, and using it effectively is key. Companies need to know what to capture, what to measure and how to analyse the data. Define, measure, analyse,” he advised.

“It’s also important to ask people what you need to improve,” he said while sharing his views on the benefit of data capture.

“Digitisation delivers better decision making, reduced reaction times, condition-based maintenance, reliable materials control, human error reductions, better user experience and performance visualisation. It is complex and costly to implement, maintain and validate but the benefits far outweigh the costs,” he added before handing the baton over to Coca Cola’s operation excellence manager, Philip Rossiter, who is vastly experienced in digitisation, having implemented it across eighteen of the company’s sites.

“A clear vision and a phased roadmap are the key starting points in a company’s digitisation journey. A modern technology stack, good technology partners and entrepreneurial skills are also critical,” he added.

Zoning in on why companies should move to digitisation he said: “It enables growth in a more complex portfolio, it drives productivity and resilience in manufacturing and supply chains, it strengthens capability, and it results in a modernised network.”

Keynote speakers at the visual management workshop included the operations managers of two Shannon companies, Chemifloc and Advanced Technical Concepts. 

Chemifloc’s David O’Driscoll gave an overview of why the company embarked on a journey of manufacturing transformation and how visual management has helped to improve its manufacturing processes by making information more accessible, understandable, and actionable. 

Giving real-life examples, he showcased how visual management has helped Chemifloc to improve productivity, reduce waste, and enhance quality. Working with WrxFlo, Chemifloc has developed a software platform which has eliminated the challenges the company faced when using paper-based processes. The benefits attained since moving to real-time data have included reductions in operation costs, inventory levels, stock gap outputs, usage of paper and increased capacity from its existing equipment.

Advanced Technical Concept’s (ATC) operations manager, Martin O’Shaughnessy, gave an amazing insight as to why visualisation is important.

“Ninety per cent of information transmitted to the brain is visual and visuals are processed sixty thousand times faster than text,” he said.

ATC uses visualisation boards in all its processes, including production, quality and site safety and O’Shaughnessy cites the benefits of doing so as company-wide alignment, a reduction in miscommunications, improved employee involvement and morale, and improved safety.

The next two events in the Mid-West Lean Network’s 2023 schedule will take place in Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing Centre in Burnaston, Derby, UK, and will give members an appreciation of the Toyota Production System (TPS), which is an original manufacturing philosophy that aims to eliminate waste and achieve the best possible efficiency. It is often called a “lean” or “Just-In-Time” system, which is well known and studied worldwide.

As Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes says: “This is new departure for us. It will give our members the opportunity to hear the benefits of the Toyota Production System from the company that founded it. Our first visit, on 29th and 30th August is fully booked, and we will shortly be opening the call for the second visit, which will take place in October. Another forthcoming event is our annual Mid-West Lean Network Conference, which is scheduled for Thursday, 9 November.”

The Mid-West Lean Network, established by Shannon Chamber and supported by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland the second largest regional lean network in Ireland, after Waterford Institute of Technology’s Lean Enterprise Excellence Group, launched in November, was set up to strengthen and increase the existing culture of lean within the Shannon and the wider Mid-West region. Its aim is to enable each industry to broaden and strengthen their competitiveness through knowledge sharing and benchmarking against each other and different industries. 


Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber pictured at Shannon Airport House with (from left): David O’Driscoll, operations manager, Chemifloc; Gavin Sheehan, Analog Devices, and chair, Mid-West Lean Network; Vincent Leonard, director, LBS Partners, event sponsor; Tim Crowe, CEO, Wrxflo; and Martin O’Shaughnessy, operations manager, Advanced Technical Concepts. Photo by Eamon Ward.


Pictured at the Mid-West Lean Network workshop held in Zimmer Biomet (from left): Robert Hernan, senior lean advisor, Enterprise Ireland; Gavin Sheehan, Analog Devices, and chair, Mid-West Lean Network; Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber; Dave Keane, senior director manufacturing, Ireland and UK, Zimmer Biomet; Seani Devlin, operational excellence program manager, Abbvie; and Philip Rossiter, operational excellence manager, Coca Cola; and  Photo by Eamon Ward.