LMJ talks to junior staff at three organisations, two manufacturers (the SCGM of our own Lean Diary and chewing gum manufacturer Wrigley) and Westminster City Council.


LMJ: What is your job role?

Dusan Zunic: I have been with SCGM for six years. Since I started here I have been working as an operator on the CNC milling machine in the tool shop. What I focus on is the production of tool components and thermal processing.

LMJ: What is the most important change you have experienced since SCGM adopted the SCGM Way?

DZ: The biggest change, which is obvious and very important to me, is tidiness and orderliness of work places, which facilitates the operator’s work and makes everything nicer and safer. I make fewer mistakes than before, because I know exactly where my things are now. Also, I like this new way because it includes all people and really focuses on team work, which I think is really important to create a good working environment.

LMJ: How has the new way of doing business influenced your daily work?

DZ: Since 5S was introduced, I am trying to keep my workplace clean, safe and well organised. I have arranged places for my documentation, cutting tools, measuring instruments and auxiliary tools and in every moment I know where to find them. It was not like this before. As a team leader for tool shop 5S, I am trying to set an example for my colleagues. Also, I pay more attention to safety now, because I am one of the safety team members.

LMJ: Are your leaders and managers helping you understand the concepts and new principles they are introducing?

DZ: Yes, they are. They have been presenting it in various ways, through formal and informal interactive meetings, concrete information and examples on information boards (where we can see the right and wrong way of doing things, where we are and where we need to be, before situations that we turn into after situations we then try to standardise). They also ask us, on the shop floor, about what we think we can do to improve things, our ideas on what can be changed, and I am happy we can contribute to the company’s improvement, because if SCGM improves workers will benefit as well.

LMJ: What are the main difficulties you encounter in trying to apply the new principles to your work?

DZ: The main difficulty I am having is only with some of my co-workers, with their mindset making them unwilling to change and accept something new and better. For example, we introduced 5S and I am keeping to it. As a team leader for the tools shop, I also need to make sure everybody else around me is following the 5S principles. There is a problem, because I am the leader but also the youngest person in the team. Some of my co-workers don’t take me and the things we have to do seriously. I am just “little Dusan” to them. But things have started to change, I think, because they realised it’s not to do me a favor, but for the wellbeing of us all, of our workplace and company.


LMJ: What do you do for Westminster City Council?

Nichola Stratford: I am a senior practitioner in the street licensing team. Part of my job is overseeing the work of my colleagues, and within that there are the procedures we follow, whether internal or led by statute. It’s an advisory and training role.

LMJ: How is lean applied to your work with street licensing?

NS: There are a number of procedures that we have carried on for a long time. We looked at the current processes and at each individual stage applied lean to them. We asked ourselves the following questions: is it an important part of the process? Does it need to be done? Is it value added or not? We challenged the procedures. An example of this is when an application is submitted, we undertake consultation with a number of parties. We considered whether it is necessary and why we do it. Also, so much information/data is inputted on an IT system so we challenged that. We are cutting out unnecessary parts of the procedures.

LMJ: What is the most significant change you experienced since the council adopted lean?

NS: Because lean is about us looking at our work and making decisions, with nobody telling us, “This is how it will be from now on,” we are now more empowered and confident in speaking up and contributing during meetings. Those who were reluctant to get involved are now more willing to participate. It was difficult to explain to everyone that this wasn’t about cutting jobs, but about freeing up time in procedures we have not changed in some cases for 10 years and make them less cumbersome. It is our opportunity to make work a better experience for us and the people we work with.

I think lean has made the job more enjoyable. You feel you are doing something for customers: when I deal with a customer on the phone, I know I am going to be able to solve their problems. And if something doesn’t work, I feel confident I can go to my manager and suggest a different way of working. It is about the team and not individuals.

LMJ: How has the new way of doing business influenced your daily work?

NS: It has eliminated a number of time consuming little things. You want to get on and deal with tasks. We were also doing a number of stages in the processes to help other teams but to no benefit to ourselves. People now have their roles and know what their core duties are. The new system clarifies everybody’s roles and responsibilities, and eliminates any overlapping.

LMJ: What is the role of leaders and managers?

NS: If we want to look at a procedure, we set a workshop and someone is put in charge of it – the managers are there as well, and then if they feel strongly about something they make a decision about it. The team accepts it even if they disagree, because they were involved in the whole process. It’s not like going to the office and been told what to do. Everybody is getting involved in decision-making.


LMJ: What do you do at Wrigley?

Team: We are the shift operating team on the main sheeting line within the Plymouth factory that produces all of our sugar free pellets.

LMJ: What is the most important change you have experienced since Wrigley adopted lean?

Team: The two main differences we have experienced are the consistency with which the machine now runs and the willingness of the operators to embrace a new concept and take it forward.

LMJ: How does lean influence your daily work?

Team: There is now a structure to the shift with planning from all relevant parties. Short, precise meetings involving the lean manager, lead technician and the operators influence the structure of the shift. Discussing what problems have occurred or are likely to occur determines the time and length of the pit stop. We are not waiting for a piece of equipment to fail and then repair it as before. We work on longer, larger activities in advance, so as to give everyone involved the time to prepare and execute in a more efficient manner, and document frequencies and work completion to ensure all jobs are done in an allotted time frame.

Buy in from all operators and empowerment enable us as a team to own lean and take it forward. The upward trend in OEE and consistency with which the sheeting machine runs gives us all confidence that we are doing the right thing.

LMJ: Are your leaders and managers supportive and do they help you undersand lean principles?

Team: Very much so. This is a journey that we are all on and the benefits are very clear. Not only for the good of our line but for the factory as a whole. The sheeting line is the main driver behind the success of this factory: if we are doing well, the factory does well.

Each individual has a part to play in the process, from creating OPL’s to upskilling themselves to changing a gear box, from lubricating their own machine to creating a virtual map of the area for easier data input.

Each person has been guided through the concepts and principles stage by stage and with more execution comes more confidence to move to the next level.

LMJ: As you try and apply improved practices to your operations, what are the main obstacles you have to overcome?

Team: The initial buy in from all operators was difficult at the start. Most have been here a long time and have seen various managers with different ideas so convincing us that embracing lean would make a difference encountered a bit of resistance at first.

Getting the right tools for the right job and getting enough of them also proved challenging. With the tasks becoming larger (Wrigley is now working with Cimlogic to implement an OEE system as part of the next stage of its lean journey) and us becoming more involved we needed more tools. This has to be done in stages, and to be honest it is still evolving.