Making a lean manufacturer

Our manufacturing client had long been a successful player in its industry, but was facing new competitive challenges. Virtually all of the client’s competitors had recently restructured on a large scale to cut operating costs. It was clear from our perspective that our client needed to follow suit and optimize its own production.

At the very beginning of the engagement, we agreed with top management on the cost targets needed to ensure that the client keep its strong market position. The targets were aggressive, especially as the client was adamant about maintaining a high-quality product. We worked hard to develop many promising ideas about how to improve production without sacrificing quality. But still, we were not making enough progress in reaching the targets.

We decided then to spend our days on the production floor to identify every possible savings opportunity. Wearing our hardhats, we examined the machines to understand the parameters of production and calculated improvements based on a constant flow of analyses. We proposed a new production approach to increase the volume of units produced at a given time by adjusting the machines, simplifying several production steps, and changing the flow of materials.

The evening before the results of our efforts were to come in, we moved with the production manager down to the machines to show him our recommendations. By midnight it was clear – we had succeeded. The new production approach worked and would cut production costs dramatically.