LEAN goes far beyond being a management tool or system. This was what Nord-Lock realized recently, after a few years of smaller projects aimed at making production more efficient. It was decided that Nord-Lock would go all in – a LEAN manager was hired, and assigned the mission of creating a corporate culture where personal responsibility and constant improvements are incorporated into everybody’s “business as usual”.
The positive results were immediate and impressed everyone involved in the process; Nord-Lock themselves, the suppliers, the owner and the external LEAN coaches. “These kinds of results are usually seen in companies after working with LEAN for ten years or more,” says LEAN coach Anna Godevärn (pictures left) from Produktionslyftet, who has guided Nord-Lock throughout the journey. The efforts have also gained national recognition, with Nord-Lock among the five finalists for the Swedish Lean Award 2012.
In one year, the 110 employees of the Mattmar based factory have come up with impressive 900 suggestions for improvement in their own work. So far, the company has carried out about 550 of these.
“As an employee, it is truly rewarding to experience that you have such a great deal of influence your work processes,” says Jonas Panther, operator of the factory gluing line, and coordinator of his team’s improvement work.
Nord-Lock has moved around machinery, to shorten throughput time and also make the production flow more transparent. “Where we used to have 10000 tractor kilometers annually only moving washers between the different steps in the coating process, we are now working with a well-planned route,” says production manager Daniel Eriksson (pictured left). For the customer, the results of the new LEAN culture primarily show in the significantly improved lead times.
Although Nord-Lock has already exceeded everyone’s expectations in the very first year of the LEAN process, there are no plans to stop there. Erik Jonsson (pictured right), LEAN manager at Nord-Lock, still sees plenty of room for improvement. “In three years from now, we will we will have a truly transparent flow throughout the whole production system, as well as the administration. Also, we will have deepened our supply chain relationships with both suppliers and customers, in order to extend the LEAN process as far as possible.”