in     by Darren Walsh 19-11-2015


Cost Savings of over $20Mn
Increased Value of Production by over $100Mn
150% Productivity, 71% Service, 63.5% Capacity, 19.5% Space.

Company Profile

A global leader in the design and manufacture of cardiovascular devices that provides alternatives to major surgery. With this being the largest plant within the corporation employing over 3,500 people.


Although being a very successful division of a leading medical device business with local production in excess of $1.2Bn in sales. This particular key value stream was core to the corporations growth but was underperforming against its key business metrics, the knock on effect of this was disruption to other key value streams and the need to outsource capacity to a sister plant. For this reason there was intense pressure and an overwhelming need to improve business performance.


The approach taken to improve this critical value stream was to first pull together a cross-functional team, gain sponsorship and to analyse the work at 3 levels.

3 Levels of Analysis:

  • Value Stream Level
  • Process/ Cell Level
  • Task/ Operation

The analysis led to the following:

Balance boards

A line balancing technique used to engage the people who do the job in an effort to get them to redesign the job/ process and eliminate wasteful activity. Once the countermeasures had been tested and deemed successful the process was then standardized and the change deployed via front line supervision.

Standard Work & Pitch Problem Solving

Used to identify variation in Man or in the Machine cycle time and to identify further opportunities by utilizing the machine cycle time. Standard work made it possible to break 3 operations that were joint constraints.

Heijunka / Visual Scheduling Board

Replaced multiple production schedules using a single Visual Management Board that scheduled orders and highlighted performance against customer demand (Takt).

Supermarkets & Kanban

Used to buffer against variation in demand and link real demand to the Visual Scheduling Board in ensure improved customer service.

Autonomous Maintenance & OEE

Adopted in a bid to reduce equipment downtime by over 50%

Management Routines

As a commitment to the execution of the Lean implementation plan, senior management supported weekly shop-floor reviews to ensure rapid change.


  • 150% Productivity improvement led to over $20Mn in cost savings.
  • 71% Improvement in on time delivery led a reduction downstream disruption.
  • 63.5% Capacity increase led to an increase in the value of production by over $100Mn
  • 19.5% Space reduction led to the installation of 2 new automated production lines at $7 Mn each.

The Lean Champions that were developed from this small cross-functional team led to a site wide Lean Champion programme and a 4 tier training programme to increasing the rate of change.

Lean Transformation - Medical DeviceLean Transformation - Medical Device




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