Lean manufacturing delivers in Southland

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 08:38 19/12/2012
Gareth Dykes
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
CONVINCED: Fibreglass Innovations owner Gareth Dykes with the 5S workplace management plan his business is using under lean manufacturing to improve efficiency.

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Southland business owners are being urged to consider lean manufacturing processes to become more efficient and improve productivity.

Venture Southland enterprise services manager Alistair Adam helped co-ordinate a pilot project, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, with three Southland businesses testing the initiative.

The initiative aimed to get businesses to identify areas where efficiency could be improved and implement management plans to action those changes.

The Japanese concept of lean manufacturing had been around for decades but few businesses in the region were implementing the initiative, Mr Adam said.

"Venture Southland replied to an expression of interest from the ministry because it believed the region could benefit from this sort of project," he said.

Venture Southland asked Invercargill-based businesses Quality Foods Southland, Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Fibreglass Innovations to become involved because they had previously been involved with the concept but had halted the process, he said.

Business consultant and "lean thinking" specialist Clinton Yeats helped the businesses identify barriers in production by putting together systems to streamline processes.

Mr Yeats' strategic focus was on the design and implementation of business improvement programmes.

This included the training, coaching and development of staff at all levels.

The businesses had since reported an improvement in productivity of about 25 per cent, the Venture Southland manager said.

Fibreglass Innovations owner Gareth Dykes said the business had been implementing lean manufacturing for more than two years.

Eight months ago he got involved with Venture Southland and started to implement the 5S workplace management plan, which had improved efficiency by 30 per cent so far.

"It definitely works, there has been such a change from where we had been eight months ago and where we are now," Mr Dykes said.

The concept and simple principles of a workplace management plan could be applied to any business, he said.

For Fibreglass Innovations it was as simple as cutting out the "frustrating process" of searching for tools and information about the jobs, he said.

Before workers started a job, information was recorded by Mr Dykes and passed along the various channels of communication.

"Everything flows and is accountable, which has improved the business immensely. We can't wait to see the final results," he said.

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- The Southland Times

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