The visual factory - a Lean project

One of our customers, an established generic pharmaceutical company, has started a global Lean trajectory. The first step in this roadmap is to identify, evaluate and decrease different types of waste according to the Lean methodology. Therefore, the managing director of the R&D site had requested Progress to implement the ‘visual factory’. This project was carried out in four months: 

  • A team was put together with members from each laboratory; 
  • Visual boards were hung on the wall next to the laboratories; 
  • Points of attention related to PSQDC (People, Safety, Quality, Delivery, Costs) were determined; 
  • Escalation routes were defined; 
  • Each team member started a short daily meeting (max 15 min) to discuss the practical issues with the whole lab.

During the daily meetings in the three labs, the points of attention were discussed, such as overtime, safety and quality incidents, status of reports, equipment failures including downtime etc. Weekly, the collected data was reviewed to identify recurring issues and to determine whether to escalate the issue to a higher Tier level. Additionally, suggestions for improvements were discussed and initiated. Points of attention were reviewed monthly.

It turned out to be a success. Where normally the focus was on content, data and planning, lab-related items were now addressed. It provided a platform for the technicians to express their ideas and concerns about the practical side of their work. It has resulted in many improvement projects: 

  • the labs were better organized by introducing focus on critical topics, including who will perform what tasks and how
  • down-time of equipment was decreased by implementing visual controls that indicate the status of laboratory issues
  • tasks were effectively prioritized by deciding which tasks to do first each day
  • communication within the team and to the management has been significantly improved by implementing daily 15 minute stand-ups in the labs to discuss issues and determine what needs to be escalated to the next level

The great thing about Progress people is that you give them an assignment and then you can let it go. They integrate into the organization, work independently and inform me in time if necessary. They are task mature and achieve results.“ 
The R&D managing director