Value of Ergonomics in Continuous Improvement Demonstrated at Mid-West Lean Network Workshop in Essilor

Claude Costelloe, chairman, Mid-West Lean Network (centre), Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber and Adrian Gleeson, general manager, Essilor with event attendees and Essilor staff.


The Shannon Chamber-driven Mid-West Lean Network, which has been operational since late 2016 is drawing an increasing number of attendees to its monthly workshops, which are held in Network members’ premises.


The most recent workshop was held in Essilor in Ennis where the focus was on integrating ergonomics into process design to make a company’s operations more efficient.


Essilor Ennis is one of thirty-three plants in the company’s global operations and its Lean Initiative for Excellence (LIFE) promotes the use of lean tools to reduce costs and improve customer relationships. The payback to date from being involved in continuous improvement has been an elimination of waste, improved efficiencies, better process controls, reduction in lead times, improved standard work practices and an alignment with other plants worldwide.


As Essilor’s CI technical manager Thomas Doyle explained: “When it comes to CI, we are punching above our weight here in the Ennis plant. We took first place in Europe in the LIFE programme in 2014 and have been winners since then right through to last year. However, we are conscious that work and tasks are ever changing and that’s why we decided to look at ergonomics.”


Encouraging Essilor to become the centre of excellence for ergonomics in lean, Mid-West Lean Network chairman Claude Costelloe stated: “This is a new direction for the network in the Mid-West and will greatly add to our aim to be the go-to place for lean in Ireland.”


Explaining the value of ergonomics in an organisation, Essilor’s Christine Kelly added: “It places an emphasis on adopting a participatory approach to work and takes account of the value of an employee’s knowledge of their job and work environment. It empowers people to make their world of work suitable for them, taking account of the risk factors associated with repetitive tasks such as poor posture or reach and flow. Human factor considerations are a priority in ergonomics in lean.”


Commenting on what a company needs to start a lean journey, Essilor general manager Adrian Gleeson said:” You need a core group of people with a knowledge of lean. You need employee participation. You need to make time available for people on the shop floor as the changes made will be more effective if the staff themselves are involved. You need a constant two-way communication flow as lean involves changing mindsets and selling the achievements gained to people who may be wary of change.”


This approach, and listening to staff through a rewarded suggestion box system, has enabled Essilor to achieve cost savings, improve its product quality, increase its workplace efficiencies, improve customer service and working conditions at the plant.


The next Mid-West Lean Network workshop, which takes place in Virgin Media in Limerick on Thursday, 31 May, will deal with Transactional Lean in the Telecommunications Industry. Admission is free but prior booking is essential via


The Mid-West Lean Network, the second largest regional lean network in Ireland, after Waterford Institute of Technology’s Lean Enterprise Excellence Group, aims 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 bench-marking against each other and different industries.