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Beyond Lean

Lean Manufacturing Collaborative: Learn by Doing for Small Manufacturers

A collaborative approach to enable small manufacturers implement lean manufacturing tools and techniques!

  You might be a small or medium-sized manufacturer that has contemplated the idea of implementing lean techniques and methodologies, but you do not have enough resources to undertake a project of this nature.

The MEP’s team of expert facilitators and trainers in Lean Manufacturing and supply chain has developed a new and affordable approach to help your organization benefit from the impact of a lean transformation and sustained change. We called this new approach the Lean Manufacturing Collaborative Program.

What is a Lean Manufacturing Collaborative?
A Lean Manufacturing Collaborative is a group of five to seven small and medium-sized organizations that together embark on a three-month journey to provide their employees with the opportunity to learn and apply lean tools and techniques to improve productivity.

What is a Lean Manufacturing Collaborative Program?
The Lean Manufacturing Collaborative Program is a combination of five interactive workshops and four on-site facilitation days. Each participating organization in the collaborative will assign three to four employees to participate in the program. At the beginning of each workshop session, each team will share with other teams their experience in implementing lean tools and techniques. In between the workshops, each team will apply the lessons learned and apply them at their site.

Why a Lean Collaborative Program?

  • Your team will learn and apply lean tools and techniques.
  • You will share the costs of implementing lean with other organizations.
  • The result is a direct impact on the bottom line of each participating organization.
  • Your team will benefit from experiences of other teams.
  • Your organization will benefit from having a trained lean team.


1. Principles of Lean Manufacturing (full day)
This a an eight-hour interactive workshop that addresses lean principles and tools and combines classroom instruction with intensive hands-on experience in the simulated shop-floor venue of the Time Wise, Inc. Clock Factory. Your team will experience the process of assembling a variety of working clocks in an environment that begins with traditional manufacturing processes, then gradually transforms into a world-class Lean facility.

 2. Team-involvement Problem-solving (full day)
This is an eight-hour workshop that teaches an eight-step structured, team based, root cause oriented problem solving process that supports the elimination of impediments to process flow. The workshop leads participants through an understanding of problem solving skills and tools such as creative/divergent thinking, consensus decision making for convergent thinking, data collection and analysis, and tools for planning actions.

3. Value Stream Management System (half day)
Time Wise™ Value Stream Management System is a four-hour interactive workshop used to create a material and information flow map of production processes. This powerful tool maps the current and future state of the flow of raw material beginning with its entrance in the back door, moving through the manufacturing process steps, and concluding at the loading dock as finished product.

4. On-site Value Stream Mapping – Implementation (2 days)
Following the Value Stream Management System training workshop, a two day On-site Application Session will be scheduled at your facility to apply and reinforce the Value Stream Management System’s methodology. Your team will develop current and future state maps, find ways to eliminate waste in material, information, and supply chain flows, and develop a detailed implementation plan for rapid and focused improvement activities (Kaizen events).

Impact: Your team will immediately experience the impact of getting to the root cause and permanently resolving a problem within your value stream. At the end of this on-site session your organization will have both the formal training and hands-on experience to continue to tackle future problem-solving activities. 

5. Advanced 5S Kaizen Event Methodologies (half-day)
A Kaizen Event is a hands-on series of activities that follows a structured 10-step process helping a team of people to make rapid, action-oriented workplace improvements. Specifically, the Kaizen Event addresses individual problem areas identified by Value Stream Mapping, using the industry standard Plan-Do-Check-Act problem solving metaphor. This half-day Kaizen workshop will focus on 5S as an improvement tool and is designed to teach participants how to implement specifically targeted Kaizen events whenever they may be needed.

6. On-site 5S Kaizen Event (2 days)
A two-day On-site Application Session will be scheduled at your facility in order to apply and reinforce the Kaizen Event Methodologies. You will decide on a project from the Action Plan which came out of your Value Stream Mapping session. You will form a cross-functional team of employees who are working in or supporting the chosen area. Our facilitators will guide the team through developing the Kaizen Mandate and following the Plan-Do-Check-Act 10 step process. A Kaizen event is a hands-on, real-time activity – that means, equipment is moved, walls are taken down, and significant changes to the process are expected.

Impact: Your organization will immediately realize the impact of the improvements incorporated into your processes. Standardization and sustainment plans will be developed to ensure long lasting results.

At the end of this session, your organization will have both the formal training and hands-on experience to continue to tackle future Kaizen activities.

7.Project Management – Sustaining Change, What Next? (full day)
All participating organizations have now achieved an impact in implementing 5S Kaizen and set other measurable goals on future improvement activities. This workshop again regroups all teams from participating organizations to provide them with the opportunity to present their Improvement Plan and benefit from the critique and feedback they gather from the other teams. This workshop will also provide each team with the tools to manage their future Kaizen events and ensure impact and sustainability.

To participate in a Lean Manufacturing Collaborative Program, contact your local MEP office:


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