Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cutting Costs to Stay Lean

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Cutting Costs to Stay Lean

Article excerpt

EMPLOYEES at a Birtley company manufacturing mechanical excavators have unearthed potential savings through efficiency improvements.

Komatsu UK Ltd, which manufactures the world's number one hydraulic crawler excavator, has achieved the savings after production staff, including team leaders, supervisors and production operators, were tutored in the latest lean production and business improvement techniques by Gateshead College.

Training took place even though production continued at the Birtley plant and was carried out by a team from the college with assistance from Komatsu UK's own experts.

The training has enhanced the staff's already extensive knowledge of lean production.

More than 170 employees participated in the initiative which identified lean training needs and led to savings and improvements in quality, costs and customer delivery.

The college's training programme equipped people with the skills to make savings in their own jobs and work stations and has seen an early return in terms of measurable improvements.

Everyone who completed the training received an NVQ Level 2 qualification in Business Improvement Techniques.

Training has also imbibed employees with the capacity and confidence to facilitate their own workshops, engaging with stakeholders and customers to examine ways of refining costs and improving service and product delivery. An example of where the training has made an impact is in the production process. A 25% time saving has been achieved after employees identified a more efficient way to operate and changeover machine tools and jigs.

This has led to cost savings and quality improvements, while the risk of accidents has reduced.

While productivity has improved, the training has also contributed to Komatsu's ethics of continuous improvement. …

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