Aster Interim Solutions were engaged by Axis Electronics Ltd to carry out a review of business activities. In the latter part of 2003, Aster was given the objective of introducing Lean Manufacturing to the Bedfordshire based electronics manufacturing company. The objectives of the project were to generate improvements to enhance customer satisfaction and to produce a marketing strategy which encompassed the achievements of the project. The scope would involve training the senior managers, introducing the project to the workforce and then leading the implementation of the resulting plan.
Phil Inness, Managing Director of Axis Electronics stated, “We engaged Aster because we were aware of their expertise in our sector and their previous experience of the implementation of Lean Manufacturing. We have been impressed by their approach and their breath of their knowledge on this subject”.
Initially, Aster carried out a lean manufacturing review on behalf of Axis Electronics. This involved contacting all customers with a detailed set of questions which were aimed at determining those attributes customers most valued and others where if improvements were made, would yield the greatest return in terms of orders, confidence and satisfaction. Responses were correlated and a detailed report prepared. The review provided an insight into ‘best-practise’ in the sector as well as valuable data for the preparation of the detailed lean implementation plan.
It was decided to start with a project which would involve the whole of the company and provide timely and positive gains to initiate the overall lean project. 5S was chosen as it would be relatively quick to implement and provide immediate visual improvements. A cross functional team made up of three project leaders was selected. The team members were then trained in the philosophy, details and concepts of 5S and how to carry out the audits which would generate the improvement ideas. The entire workforce was then briefed by Aster and the projected initiated in a series of monthly audits, resulting in improvement ideas which would acted upon on a monthly basis.
Phil Inness commented, “As the project developed we found that by focusing on a small number of actions every month per department, we not only achieved our goals but the change crept up on the business in an incremental manner which was particularly important during a very busy period for our business”. Following the introduction of 5S, we now plan to ask Aster to introduce other lean tools to our business”.