How NPL training helped Vestas seamlessly roll out leaner manufacturing techniques.

A common problem in manufacturing is the disconnect between those responsible for introducing new technology and processes and those using them. This can mean numerous iterations of roll out plans before a workable understanding is reached.

To address this issue, Vestas – the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines – established a Prototype Team, a dedicated group of technicians to validate new products and processes. The team provides a link between the Production Business Unit and the shop floor, trialling new products and processes and providing feedback.

To ensure the team had the right skills, Vestas put them through a range of training courses, including the National Physical Laboratory’s (NPL) Dimensional Measurement training.

This is helping the team to evaluate new technologies and processes, and identify the best ones for the job and how to implement them. The training has given them the confidence to make full reports and recommendations back to the engineers. This in turn helps iron out problems and ensures that new approaches are rolled out to the shop floor seamlessly.

Another positive outcome is cost savings, as there is a much reduced need to observe processes in other offices in order to implement them.

Trevor Corsham, team leader at Vestas, said: “The course started with the basics – which even for those with considerable experience was a good exercise in highlighting preconceptions that needed to be challenged – then built up to the more detailed in-depth measurement issues. The course provided the right mix of theory and practical to make it interesting right from the start.”

One of the key benefits of the training was that it gave participants a common language with engineers.

Mr Corsham continued: “When you’re in a production environment you are presented with a drawing which can then present you with challenges that you need to deal with. If you then come across problems you can’t solve, it can seriously hold up production. This training enabled us to fully understand the designs and lay out the right approach for the shop floor, or go back to the designer and work with them to resolve any problems. It’s about breaking down silos and creating a level footing between the shop floor and the rest of the business.”

James Luter, director of the Prototype facility, said: “We established the team to ensure we could take advantage of new technologies and processes and implement them with minimal disruption. Understanding measurement is key to understanding and validating how these changes can benefit the business. NPL’s training has enabled us to rigorously evaluate new ideas, identify where they can save time and money and deliver increased value to customers, and roll them out quickly and effectively.”