Lean Manufacturing - A lighthouse project for an entire company group

A French production site of an international chemical and pharmaceutical group challenged T.A. Cook to drive achieving a noticeable increase in throughput in just 16 weeks.

Lean management principles like removal of non-added values, structured waste attack, shop floor presence, error/failure prevention and continuous improvements had to be introduced to the site team. Selected instruments of the “Lean Toolbox like 5S/waste management, RCA, focused initiatives, lead time management and visual management had to be established at the site.

An additional hurdle was that circumstances did not allow for an analysis. After a guided work floor tour and interviews with key stakeholders, the T.A. Cook project manager and project team members had sufficient insight and overview to propose the right measures and quick wins, relying on their vast project experience. The team has chosen an agile project approach with the first implementations, i.e., performance measurement, management system elements and quick wins in week 5 already. Permanent monitoring and constant follow-up according to the principle of short interval control (plan-actual comparisons), combined with immediate corrective measures and strong involvement of management and employees ensured initial project successes that were repeated over the entire project duration:


Annual turnover increase


OEE over 3 lines in 2 weeks


OEE over 3 lines sustainable in 10 weeks


Average increase in throughput combined with a productivity increase at the same time


The main goal was to optimize the throughput of selected production lines. At the same time, the focus was on improving the lean management system, e.g. Short Interval Plan-Actual comparisons combined with the initiation of immediate corrective actions on a shift and daily basis, and leadership behavior. In a lean transformation approach, T.A. Cook put the following actions in place to minimize OEE losses and increase throughput:

- OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) implementation and measurement of OEE losses.
- Definition and installation of quick wins (attacking the biggest levers)
- Introduction of lean tools
- Introduction of KPIs
- Enforcement of active supervision (active leadership)
- Introduction of regular performance meetings and visual management (definition and start to
  implement a Manufacturing Control Centre concept)
- Involvement of key people at all hierarchical levels.


From implementation start in project week 5 until project week 16, the team achieved three production records (throughput) while increasing productivity. Throughput averaged more than 10 percent above the weekly budget plan, and a productivity increase of more than 6 percent was achieved compared to the 30 weeks of the year prior to the instigated changes by T.A. Cook.

Consistent enforcement of active supervision for 3 production lines averaged 14.6 percentage points plus in OEE over two weeks of testing. Extrapolated for the year, this is an increase of more than EUR 3.3 million.

In the optimization of production changeovers, a plus of 3.45 percentage points OEE was achieved. This translates into an EUR 0.8 million turnover increase. The real, average OEE increase in the 16 project weeks was 4 percentage points, which represents more than EUR 1 million turnover increase.

One success factor was the lean approach - precisely targeted, customer-oriented and flexible -  identifying the levers that would impact changes quickly and effectively with lasting effects. It was important that employees and decision-makers at all levels were involved and committed. Although there was some initial skepticism, the positive results quickly showed that this was exactly the right approach.

In the final meeting with the group's management, the project team presented the outstanding results. The French company is part of a multinational group. The site in France was selected as a pioneer for a pilot project. The customer was visibly enthusiastic and spoke of a "lighthouse project" for the entire group. If you add up all the results achieved during the project and compare them with the project costs, the investment has already paid off three times.

“When you consider that these results were achieved on just under 4% of the production lines, you can see the potential of what can still be achieved with this tailored approach, method, and targeted actions."

Bernd Zanger, Principal and Project Manager at T.A. Cook

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