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Case Studies

We have put together a series of case studies showing the various organisations and sectors within which The Lean Group have worked.

We believe that these case studies will prove useful to demonstrate our approach and the results that can be achieved.

Click on the links below to search each industry sector:

Case Studies 

A number of the Projects that The Lean Group have supported this year have been of a commercially sensitive and confidential nature, as a consequence neither the Products nor the Organisations have been identified.

Lean Group Personnel have been granted Security Clearance from the Home Office. 

Geographic Area – United Kingdom

Project One 
To develop the Production System for the Manufacture of High-tech Measurement Equipment for the Renewable Energy Sector.

The Client, a relatively small Operation although part of a larger Group of Companies has developed a Hi-tech Measurement Device for the Renewable Energy Sector.

Although Market Leaders in an expanding Market, increased Competition means that developing an Efficient Production System is becoming more and more important in what has been to date a largely Research and Development type of Process. 

After initial evaluation it was agreed that the Organisation needed to focus on the Elimination of Waste in their Production Process, in addition to determining an appropriate strategy for Outsourcing. 

The Original thinking was to outsource all of their Production requirements, however it was agreed that it is important to consider that the more Activity or opportunity to Add Value that an Organisation outsources, the more opportunity to Add Value they give away. Outsourcing by its very nature means that Producers give Margin away, these margins may become ever more critical in the future, as the Organisation may need all of this Flexibility to meet the challenging needs of the future. 

It was also agreed that outsourcing would result in an even greater loss of control over both Lead Time and Quality Control.

Before we outsource, we should always ask the question “why can someone else do this function better than we can ourselves?” 

The Process
The current practice of splitting the build across several Work Stations and Assembly Personnel, normally effective in a Repetitive Assembly Environment wasn’t working very well as a consequence of the Fragmented Layout and the R&D Culture inherent within the “Production Team”. 

In addition, Personnel were continually pulled from planned jobs to deal with day-to-day priorities/emergencies. Whilst this is understandable, it is inevitably wasteful and results in an inability to Measure and Manage Operational Performance. 

It was therefore considered essential that we identify Key Roles and Responsibilities and dedicate Personnel to these tasks. 

A Product Build Analysis was completed and it was decided to assemble the Product using fewer but Dedicated Personal and using the remaining Staff to ensure that Materials are available for the build, Just In Time, as required and for Process Improvement. 

This approach was expected to reduce Lead Time and increase Capacity substantially; it should also have the added benefit of enabling the Assembly Operation to take place in a Single Sterile Area, reducing the current extensive and repetitive need for cleaning.

Dedicating Roles and Responsibilities will provide far greater control of the Production Process and help Isolate and Identify the Cost of Work-Around Activities.

To this end, Key Performance Indicators K.P.I.s, including daily Production Targets based on the Theoretical Build Analysis were established and the Deming Continuous Improvement Process “Plan, Do, Check, Act” was adopted to capture Concerns and ensure Timely Problem Resolution.

Standard Operating Procedures
Ultimately it is believed important that The Organisation develop Standard Operating Procedures throughout the entire Operation, however it was decided that the initial focus should be on the Production Build Process, as this will improve Product Quality Performance, and ensure ongoing Consistency in Lead Times and Cost. 


Establishing Key Performance Indicators, developing a Standardised Production Process, dedicating Personnel to Tasks and establishing separate roles for Production and R&D Activities has resulted in:

A Reduction in Lead Time from One Week to One Day and 

A Reduction in Production Man Hours, necessary to build a Product, from around 160 hours to 10 hours with associated reductions in cost.

Project Two
To Improve the Production System for a Hi-tech Security Product

Principle Objectives

  • To improve Quality, Cost and Delivery Performance
  • Implement O.E.E. as a Measure at two Production Facilities.
  • Establish subsequent Improvement Actions, Responsibilities and the appropriate Support Infrastructure.

Improvement Activities

  • Provided O.E.E. Training and established O.E.E. as a Key Performance Indicator at both of the Production Sites
  • Secured Ownership of the Production Process and Performance Targets by the Production Team.
  • Displayed Key Performance Measures including O.E.E. Performance and the O.E.E. Action Plan in the Production Areas.
  • Identified shortcomings in Performance and allocated Appropriate Responsibilities for Performance Improvement.
  • Established a bi-weekly O.E.E. Action Plan Review Meeting that Prioritised the Activities of both the Internal and External Contracted Support Teams, based on Business Priorities.
  • Brought Maintenance Activities in-house and commenced a Programme of (T.P.M.) Total Productive Maintenance.
  • Established the Management Structure and Meeting Etiquette.

Benefits To Date  

O.E.E. Performance is increasing, currently from an average of 30% to 66% and up to 85% in some cases on Core Equipment.

A Significant Improvement to Final Quality Performance

On Time Delivery from 60% to 99.7%

Geographic Area – Europe

Project Three 
Single Minute Exchange of Die (S.M.E.D) for a 
Division of a Global Printing Operation based in Europe

This established Printing Facility operates twenty Printing Presses, a typical Changeover originally took in the region of 30 hours to complete. 

The Process

  • Conducted Single Minute Exchange of Die (S.M.E.D.) Training
  • Studied/Recorded Make-ready/Changeover
  • Conducted S.M.E.D. Analysis
  • Conducted Training in Standard Operating Procedures
  • Conducted a Workplace Organisation Activity based on Best Practice Requirements identified during the S.M.E.D. Activity.

Standard Operating Procedures

  • Developed Standard Operating Procedures to Secure the Gains that were made.


Make-ready/Changeover times have been consistently reduced to less than 10 hours 
An Action Plan is in place to ensure Changeovers can be achieved in less than 8 hours. 

This initiative has obviously generated Significant Improvements to Production Capacity in addition to providing a much more Flexible Production System.

Project Four
Workplace Organisation (5S) and Associated Improvements for a 
Division of a Global Printing Operation based in Europe

This established Printing Facility operates twenty Printing Presses. The Area selected for the Workplace Organisation Activity was an Internal Supply Area, Preparing Materials for the Main Production Area’s, the Printing Presses. There were originally, considerable levels of Raw Materials and Work In Progress (W.I.P.)

The Process

  • Provided Workplace Organisation Training (5S)
  • Conducted Workplace Organisation Activity:
    - > Sorting 
    - > Simplify
    - > Sweeping
    - > Standardise
    - > Self-Discipline
  • Studied and Optimised the Materials Preparation Process to Minimise Lead-times and Maximise Machine Utilisation.
  • Evaluated actual Raw Material Stock requirements based on Usage and Re-supply capabilities.


A Cleaner, More Efficient, Safer and Organised Workplace

Materials Preparation, Process Time, reduced to around 50% of the already Improved, Press Make-ready Time (i.e. around 5-6 hours)

Significant Improvements to O.E.E.

Reduced Requirements for Ancillary Equipment

A £250,000 reduction in Raw Material Costs

Geographic Area – Global

Project Five
Operational Analysis and Improvement for a Division of a 
Global Printing Operation based in the Continent of Africa - Ongoing

This Division, responsible for the Production of four Key Value Streams within the overall Global Operation, was perceived to be falling behind the Operational Performance of the rest of the Group. 

This situation was not due to any Site-specific failures but more to the success of the Improvement Programme and Activities that were being successfully implemented elsewhere within the Group, and which are now generating real and meaningful Operational Gains. 

The Process
An Initial Analysis was conducted at the Site, which indicated that Improvements to Workplace Organisation would generate Operational Improvements, at both Site (Macro) and Area (Micro) levels, in addition to the General Benefits that good Workplace Organisation can provide.

In addition to the Workplace Organisation and Layout Improvements, further Lean Opportunities were identified that could be addressed through:

  • Reducing Changeover Times (S.M.E.D.)
  • Implementing, Standard Operating Procedures

It is believed that focusing on these three Key Areas of Opportunity, as part of a Holistic and Integrated Programme of Improvement will in turn generate a real return to the bottom line.

Workplace Organisation
The Key Opportunities that were identified related to improving the Layout of Equipment and Optimising the Value Streams in order to reduce the Waste of Movement and Excessive Stocks and improving the Valued Added Ratio of the workforce. 

Key Processes were disjointed, which necessitated material movements of several hundred metres and some cases, in excess of 1000 metres.

In addition there was little or no evidence of Location, Status and Quantity Control relating to the Storage of Materials,

Standard Operating Procedures
The Operation is not currently using Standard Operating Procedures; implementing S.O.P.s will improve Quality and Consistency and ensure that Improvements Gains are Sustained in the long-term.

Training Provided (at this stage)
Lean Awareness
Make-Ready - Single Minute Exchange of Die
Workplace Organisation (5S)
Team Building and Problem Solving

Improvement Activities

S.M.E.D. Activity – Web Press (In Progress)
The Team completed a study of the Changeover Process and initial improvements have reduced Changeover times from a budgeted 4.5 hours to an actual changeover Time of 2.5 hours, a reduction of 45%. 

Some Improvements Actions are still outstanding at this time, it is expected that the eventual Changeover Time will be sustained at no more than 2 hours, a reduction of 55%. The Team have been left with a Plan to complete the exercise and will then formalise the Process through the Creation of a “ Press Make-ready Standard Operating Procedure”

The Key Opportunities identified through this Activity involved:

  • Organising the Workplace
  • Developing Standard Operating Procedures and Balancing Work Loads across Personnel
  • Externalising Key Change Parts, which are now prepared prior to the make-ready

Operational Layout 
Each of the four Value Streams were studied and then one was selected as the Initial Focus for Improvement for a number of reasons:

  • It is the largest Product Group by both Volume and Value.
  • The Improvement for this Product Stream can be achieved without the need to move any Significant Capital Equipment.
  • Minimal Investment will be required.
  • The Improvement Activity can be carried out as a series of Discrete Activities with little and probably no impact on Production.
  • The proposed location of this area will not impact on any subsequent Improvement Activities on the other Key Value Streams.

The Improvement Process

  1. Calculate Current Lead-Time
  2. Calculate Theoretical Lead-Time
  3. Take “Before” Photos of all current parts of the Process.
  4. Clearout, Configure and Optimise the Layout for the Secondary Operations, Area (Workplace Organisation).
  5. Clearout, Configure and Optimise Layout for the Primary Press Area (Workplace Organisation).
  6. Clearout, Configure and Optimise Layout for the Current, Work in Progress Area (Workplace Organisation).
  7. Design and Verify The New Layout
  8. Layout New Area
  9. Determine “Run Rates” of Press and Finishing (balance if necessary)
    Re-locate Raw Material Storage to the in-feed area of the Press.
  10. Determine Storage and Production Policies for Runners, Repeaters and Strangers.
  11. Determine minimum / max stock levels based on Customer Requirements and Replenishment Capabilities, taking into account the concept of Runners, Repeaters and Strangers and then create a Kan-ban for the Main Runners (5 off) between the Press and Finishing Operation.
  12. Paint and brighten up the area, check lighting and improve if necessary.
    Create Audits and Standard Operating Procedures and Maintain the Standard

Additional Concerns

  • High levels of Make Ready waste
  • Low Availability
  • Plates are not always available when required

Recommended Actions

  • Implement Overall Equipment Effectiveness (O.E.E.) as a measure of Machine Performance
  • Introduce the principles of Plan, Do, Check, Act, (P, D, C, A.) Concern Cause Countermeasure Data Collection and Problem Solving to eliminate/reduce Waste.
  • Implement Standard Operating Procedures to Maintain our Standards.

Expected Benefits: 

A substantially reduced Working Area.

Improved Quality 

All of the Activity relating to this Value Stream will be carried out within one localised Area.

Reduced Lead Time

Reduced Distances

Improved Security

Improved Visibility

Less Stock (W.I.P.)

Greater Accountability (Single Supervisor)

A Pull System from the W.I.P. Supermarket for Runners (Main Production)

These case studies are illustrative of the type of consultancy work we carry out. Should you wish to discuss them further then please contact us. One of our consultants would be happy to discuss over the telephone or arrange an initial on site visit at no charge to qualifying Companies.

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