Case Study 2: A medical emergency

This subcontract company specialises in the manufacture and assembly of printed circuit boards, electronic consumer products and specialised test equipment for the food and medical industries.

With a growing business and an opportunity to expand into adjacent new premises, it presented the ideal time to focus a Lean improvements project on the electro-mechanical assembly process for medical equipment.

The company opted to implement a tailored improvement program comprising of training for in-house Lean champions and staff, combined with a carefully planned rapid improvement event to cement the 'hands on' learning experience.

The original process involved building large batches of parts which were then progressed through a variety of assembly processes including testing, packing and dispatch.


Using simple process Analysis tools (String Diagrams, Process Activity Charting etc) the improvement team identified the non-value adding aspects of the process and applied their Lean training to help find the solutions of how to improve it.

The acquisition of the building next door provided the team with the scope of an empty space to implement improvements and to think about how to cope with any future growth.

After a 4 day activity the new process layout now utilises just 7 of the original 18 work benches but also has the flexibility to build any variant of the product range and all the Sub-assemblies in the same cell.

Consumables and component supply are incorporated into the cell via line side racking and can be managed using a simple Kanban replenishment system.

Each workstation within the cell has exactly the right tooling and test equipment to ensure the process flows as smoothly as possible.

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The end result has been a reduction in operator movement from 467m to 136m (-71%) and the product build time has been reduced from 2hrs 30mins to 1hr 12mins, a 52% improvement in productivity!

The reduction in the number of workbenches being used has also resulted in a significant improvement (50%+) for floor space utilisation.

Customer Profile

Sub-contract electronics & electro mechanical assembly

Main focus of activity
Process Analysis & 5S

52% increase in productivity
71% reduction in operator movement
75% improvement to space utilisation
Kanban replenishment of stock items




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