Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) is on the rise and quickly becoming the number one product for the treatment and prevention of wounds. In response to NPWT’s high demand, Cork Medical implemented a number of new processes to its manufacturing structure, most recently being Lean Methodologies.
It was discovered that Lean Methodologies can help to streamline processes, eliminate waste, and enhance overall efficiency, a key component we lacked during our kitting process. Like many others, we faced a number of challenges such as inventory inefficiencies, delays, and unnecessary complexities. But by recognizing the need for improvement and leaning on Lean Methodologies (pun intended!), we were able to create a more organized and efficient kitting process.
What are Lean Methodologies
Lean Methodologies are used in most businesses, specifically in manufacturing businesses, to create an organizational flow that optimizes production efficiency across the entire value stream. Additionally, it helps businesses to achieve business goals in a healthy, smart, and environmentally sustainable way.
Implementing Lean Methodologies
One of the main components of Lean Methodologies is the five s’s – 5S for short – sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. The 5S’s were created to form a clean, uncluttered, safe, and well-organized workplace.
Here’s how we applied the 5S’s to our structure.
Sort: We removed a lot of unnecessary items that were lying around the kitting room, and we created a systematic approach for inventory management.
Set in Order: All tools and materials were organized in a logical manner, reducing search and retrieval times.
Shine: A regular cleaning schedule was introduced, and measures were implemented to maintain cleanliness.
Standardize: Standard operating procedures were documented, ensuring consistency in kitting processes.
Sustain: Training programs and regular audits were implemented to sustain Lean practices in the kitting room.
Next came creating a visual management system. The visual management system would allow us to locate necessary items easily and efficiently. Bins were color coded, labels were created, and signage was posted. This significantly improved visibility and reduced errors. We then integrated the Kanban system. Kanban systems allow businesses to enhance inventory control and minimize overstock or shortages. Implementing Kanban allowed for a just-in-time replenishment approach, reducing waste associated with excess inventory. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and continuous improvement were closely monitored, and regular reviews of the kitting room were implemented. By doing this, we could understand our cycle time and provide better measurable benchmarks for success.
What This Means for Cork Medical Customers
By including our employees in the Lean Methodology transformation process, we can provide employees with the proper resources and accommodate their unique needs so they may focus on ensuring our products are properly produced, packaged, and delivered. This not only fostered a sense of ownership but also encouraged continuous improvement suggestions from the front line.
After embracing Lean principles, we not only optimized our kitting processes but also created a more efficient, organized, and customer focused workspace. As we continue to grow, our commitment to Lean Methodologies will continue to be a driving force for sustained success and customer satisfaction.