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Part of being the best at what we do, as well as working with some of the largest manufacturing brands in the world, is that we’re able to constantly expand our Lean knowledge in order to help our clients to succeed at what they do! We were lucky enough to be invited to join Nissan at their Sunderland Manufacturing Plant for an in-depth factory tour and workshop session with the Nissan Kaizen Team and other businesses looking to make Lean work for them…
Our work within the Automotive Sector is well-known and we’ve worked with some large industry names within the automotive world. Recently, we joined the Nissan Team for a detailed factory tour around the plant’s Body Shop, Paint Shop and Trim & Chassis areas, as well as workshop sessions with other businesses. A visit to an automotive manufacturing site is always something to behold and something which those in almost all other manufacturing environments aspire to – what was most interesting to hear from Nissan is that for them this isn’t the result of plugging away at a Lean mentality or culture but by simply ‘existing‘. One member of the Nissan Team put it fantastically well, “Nissan doesn’t practise Lean, it just IS Lean.”
The day started with a discussion around the current state of the visitor companies businesses and it quickly became apparent that each and every attendee had tried to implement Lean in some form or another over the last few years with each attempt ending in failure – but a lot was learned! The delegates talked a lot about communication, culture and engagement and how when they had tried to implement Lean principles into their business it was these things that ultimately resulted in the failure of the programme.
Remember – Lean is a journey and not a destination! Goalposts will always move as your business gets better and you seek to be better at what you do. Engaging the workforce is essential, without their support how can you expect to gain any momentum and move forward with your Lean journey? The answer? You can’t!
In much the same way the Nissan plant uses an extensive visual management programme to communicate information to their workforce, visual management would have solved these communications and engagement problems! Lean is all about finding and eliminating waste and effectively communicating this to staff through visual management (especially if their particular cell is falling behind) is a sure-fire way of empowering a sense of ownership which directly relates to performance and efficiency.
We also discussed the importance of brief, structured meetings where vital information could be handed over to the relevant people and departments without losing focus or impacting daily operations. The delegates attending the day were all from manufacturers who at the moment didn’t have a successful system of handing over information. At Clarity Visual Management, we specialise in solving exactly this type of problem! Our Control Rooms are a designated space to discuss relevant points in a structured, focused way – if the team need to be on the line at the time of the handover then our Magnetic Overlays can be quickly and easily moved around to wherever they are needed.
It really is true that visual management does a lot of the legwork of Lean; without effective, engaging visual management a business is not able to communicate effectively to its workforce who will remain disengaged and segregated from the Lean programme when it’s their buy-in you need the most!
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