When Val Gardner became the managing director of Midlands-based manufacturing firm Winster, one of her ambitions was to introduce ‘lean’ manufacturing into the day-to-day operations.
Change for the better
‘Lean’ business techniques are based on kaizen, a Japanese philosophy that translates as ‘change for better’. The kaizen approach to manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste in all aspects of a company’s systems by standardising processes and procedures.
“I’m not trained in lean,” Val said. “We’d been growing organically and doing well for decades. What we needed now was to do some planning and improvements, implementing ‘lean thinking’, such as PDCA – plan, do, check, act.”
To understand how to bring ‘lean’ processes into the business, Val and her managers attended events and workshops offsite and brought ‘lean thinking’ experts to run training onsite.
“Having ‘lean approach’ experts onsite helped everyone, including me, to understand how to evaluate the business, quality of products and quality of customer care,” Val said. “We needed to comply with lean techniques. We are really looking to take production to the next level.”
For Val, the ‘lean’ approach is one of constant improvement: “I have two managers who are now doing continuous development. I also have staff who are taking the lean approach to everything they do. It’s very empowering for people when they know they’re helping a business to grow, to improve and when customers comment on the quality of work and products.”
Diversifying into different sectors
Winster was set up in the 1940s supplying hose to the mining industry. After mining declined in the 1970s, the company diversified into a range of different sectors, which include automotive aftermarket, camping/caravanning, engineering and cleaning and drainage, among others. Along with diversifying into different sectors, Winster also has its own manufacturing hub.
“Along with eliminating waste, improving efficiency and empowering staff, ‘lean’ gives more value to customers by streamlining work processes,” Val continues. “And that efficiency in turn creates quality products and gives more profitable results.”
“Also, ‘lean’ is ongoing; there’s always room for improvement. It’s about refining procedures. That way we can start to look at making ‘lean’ investments and grow the Winster brand going forward.”
For more information on Winster’s manufacturing and customer care call 01902 606010. Alternatively, visit our website.