Management, senior executives and operational staff in Takumi Precision Engineering demonstrated how they are using lean tools to eliminate waste from their business when hosting the first workshop in the Mid-West Lean Network’s 2019 calendar of events.
Hosting over 70 attendees from a range of companies throughout the region at their recently expanded 40,000 sq. ft. facility in Raheen Business Park last week, managing director Gerry Reynolds proudly stood aside to let his management team in manufacturing, operations, production, engineering, materials and finance show how their respective areas are utilising lean tools, particularly the A3 project solving tool, to identify and solve problems highlighted during the manufacturing and operational processes, to introduce efficiencies into the business.
Opening the workshop, Mr Reynolds said that the A3 system within Takumi is akin to a visual factory in that it enables the company to see what needs to be done at any juncture of time within the organisation.
“The great thing about A3s is they are owned by the workers. They highlight any issue that is hindering attaining a target and the team can then set about finding and designing the solution. As the solution is driven by the workforce, the resultant improvement is immediate and lasting.”
Takumi uses the A3 problem solving methodology to solve problems and non-value-added issues that need to be addressed by all areas within the company. This was demonstrated during the tour of the plant, which was part of the workshop, with workers displaying a high level of presentation skills competence and pride in their work.
“As a leading precision component manufacturing partner to some of the world’s leading companies in the medical devices, pharmaceutical, aerospace and precision engineering arenas, which demand the very highest levels of quality and service, we need to constantly evolve as a company. Having a critical mass of lean thinkers within the company capable of identifying opportunities and using lean tools to bring them to light is a great asset,” said engineering manager Shane McMahon.
“Lean enables workers who may be siloed to see what other parts of the business are doing. They can participate in lean undertakings at many levels. We use lean tools to solve basic problems that give us fast, easy wins; projects that take more time require debate on what needs to be done to fix the problem. The A3s start out as a blank sheet with no clear idea on how to solve the problem, but it become obvious as the process evolves. Continuous improvement is continuous and iterative, but the results are powerful,” he added.
Commenting on the value of the workshop, Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “It was very evident during the visit to Takumi that the employees who led the tours across all departments were highly engaged and passionate to deliver on the projects that they had ownership of. There was a sense of pride that stood out, which reflects how Takumi engages their staff.
“What we have found through running the Mid-West Lean Network and the annual series of workshops is that an increasing number of companies are seeking to introduce a higher level of operational efficiency into their businesses. This is evident not only in the manufacturing sector but in all types of businesses, large, medium and small.
“These workshops give companies the opportunity to hear first-hand how lean works. They can also network with people from other companies in the region and visit other plants and talk with staff there. The supports available from Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland allow companies to start their lean journeys and embed continuous process into their business models.
“The workshops are always over-subscribed so that points to the obvious benefits attendees derive from them,” added Ms Downes.
The second workshop in the Mid-West Lean Network’s 2019 calendar of events will be held in Lufthansa Technik Shannon on Thursday, 14 March from 1.30pm to 5pm. The topic is visual management.