In a nutshell
“We needed to introduce a new production method in our client’s factories. One that would boost efficiencies and staff engagement along with it. This was completely new territory – for them and us. But we knew that the potential savings and benefits were stratospheric.”
This new method? It’s called line balancing, and it makes things much more efficient. The idea’s simple, but it’s also tricky to implement. Imagine a busy, 24/7 factory floor with production managers who are constantly on the go, making in-the-moment decisions. So for this to work, we needed people to be empowered – and champion the whole process.
As always, we rolled up our sleeves and got out on the factory floor to learn first-hand how things were done. We worked alongside production managers, asking them questions and listening to their frustrations.
We then started line balancing trials, using rigorous, evidence-based data to keep testing and refining the process. It was essentially taking the guesswork out of production, and soon enough people started having the confidence to create their own experiments.
As Tim says, “By designing the new process in close collaboration with production managers, they could better see the benefit of what we were doing. And that led to real engagement: we were now all on the same page.”
After the trials, we empowered the workforce by coaching them in both the classroom and on the factory floor so they had the skills to sustain line balancing long after we’d left. Not only that, we made sure that the planning and production teams were totally in sync, meaning they could work together more effectively.
They’re busy people, after all. And the last thing they want is someone floating in and telling them what to do. We’re not like that – but it’s only natural they’d be a bit cautious at first. But that’s the beauty of how we do things: we strike up personal, warm relationships with people and work with them to make improvements.
The production managers didn’t want to be in the classroom. They wanted to be on the factory floor. So we made sure they were back out there as soon as possible, putting into practice the things they’d learned. Before long, they were absolutely flying.
“Line balancing was new to us as well as the team. So by learning all this together, it helped build up a really strong rapport. We trusted their expertise, and they trusted ours.”
We helped make £2.5m annual efficiency savings at their main factory, and around £7.5m across all other sites. Communication and engagement was at an all-time high, and the improvements stuck: line balancing became totally embedded in their way of working. Production managers took ownership of the process, successfully using it on over 250 products.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s our client, Don: “The support and input from Newton has been first class…it really shows what we’re capable of with an open mind and a collaborative approach”.