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The Challenge

To support the preparation of an IPO, a government owned railway operator wanted to improve its turnaround time for train refurbishment, the average for which was in excess of 90 days and the fastest had been 87 days.

The company loses revenue when the trains are out of service so it was critical to return the trains to service in the fastest possible turnaround times.

The Challenge

A global pharmaceutical company’s conversion (manufacturing) cost in $USD per 1000 tablets had increased steadily in recent years and the company wished to take steps to reduce it.

Explic8 consultants defined the Lean strategy for the USA division.

The Challenge

A global medical device company was unable to supply its products to the market because of delivery failures from vendors.

The company was so frustrated, it was considering building a brand-new, giant warehouse facility to hold stock of the offending items.  However, this strategy was fraught with issues such as cost of buildings, increased stock holdings, increased transport costs, effect on cash flow and profit and the time taken to plan and build.

The Challenge

A pan-European group with turnover in excess of £130m employing over 1300 people was failing to hit its customer service promise of 99% next day delivery by a large margin and the actual achievement figure was below 45%!  The company was seeking ways to achieve its customer service promise of 99% next day delivery without increasing costs or stock.

A major coach and bus manufacturer was considering closing one of its manufacturing sites in the UK as it was not performing; it was a loss making site; quality was poor, and it was market contracted by over 20%. Pressure was coming from the company’s joint investors who perceived that there were inefficiencies and over capacity across its operational sites in Europe.

The company engaged Explic8 to review its operations and provide a road map to avoid site closure.

The Challenge

The quality of output had slipped significantly while costs increased, and customers were becoming frustrated. The site was set up to produce both coaches and buses but was doing neither well.

The site was sprawled over 600k ft2, comprising several buildings. Part-built vehicles were being towed between buildings to complete the manufacturing process, exposing them to the elements and creating significant inefficiencies.

In addition, every vehicle was taking up to 20 weeks to build and each one was a loss-maker as they had been costed on a superseded design that gave them the ability to produce 1200 vehicles annually, but this was no longer the case.

It was clear that a radical shift was required to give the company any hope of retaining the site. However, with a ‘died in the wool” unionised employee base, workers had historically benefited from powerful union control. This dominance created an environment that was not conducive to change.

The Ask:

A global medical device company, a Top 100 ASX performer, launched a new product range which was well received in the market with indications of good sales potential. However, manufacturing output simply could not meet the demand and customers were becoming increasingly frustrated at not receiving their orders on time

Results and Benefits

  • Output raised from 300 units per month to 4,000 (a 13-fold increase)
  • 80 good units per shift produced with 7 people (a 70-fold increase in productivity)
  • Quality – increased to an average 90% first pass yield
  • First completed works order achieved 98% yield (company record)
  • Manufacturing Cell implemented
  • Manufacturing lead time reduced from over 45 days to 1 day
  • 100% on time delivery
  • Skills matrix developed / Team cross training for job rotation
  • Avoidance of overtime and recruitment
  • No increase in overheads
  • Reduction in WIP


  • The product range consisted of 2 main products which, with 4 colour variants (and 2 more to be launched), yield 20 SKUs and 120 accessories
  • The output level was supposed to be 1400 units per month with aspirations to raise output levels to 3000 units per month over 6 months
  • Throughput levels and yields were lower than target but were expected to rise with production experience (the actual output was 300 units per month)
  • There were quality, quantity and timeliness problems with deliveries of bought-in components
  • The high failure rates of incoming components and assemblies consumed valuable trained resource to rework failures and therefore, reduced capacity
  • The operation was labour intensive with 30 people employed on 8hr shifts plus overtime and around 10 on afternoon shifts
  • There is no automation, each piece is hand-built under microscopes
  • The average lead time to produce one unit was in excess of 45 days


  • Recruitment and training is long and difficult because each operator is highly skilled, therefore, the only capacity flexing is with overtime
  • In order to hit output targets the company was considering recruiting and training 40-50 more employees


  • To provide an end-to-end value stream map of the new product range identifying opportunities for improvement, designing how the processes should operate and implementing a manufacturing cell structure which will achieve the company’s desired output and quality targets without increasing head count, labour cost and overhead

The Approach:

Changes were implemented within the company’s framework of:

  • Internal organisation structure
  • Regulatory and compliance requirements
  • Incoming Inspection and GMPs
  • Document control and SOP processes


  • Data collection & analysis
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • Design for manufacture and assembly
  • FMEA
  • Cell design
  • Solution verification
  • Implementation
  • Supplier positioning
  • Strategic Sourcing
  • Vendor Managed Inventory
  • Supplier assessment
  • Batch order quantities
  • Kitting
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Visual Factory Management
  • 5S Housekeeping
  • Team Briefings
  • Continuous Improvement