Lean Thinking brings Improvements and Awards

After undertaking a twelve month Lean Programme with Andy Taylor and Oneflow associate Dave Cartwright, RE Cooke made substantial award-winning improvements.

A 23% productivity increase was achieved by the removal of the 7 Wastes, enabling smaller batch sizes and dramatically reduced lead times. This was not possible however without a change in culture to a Lean Thinking organisation.

The Objectives

The objective for RE Cooke was clear - remain competitive!

This involved driving improvements in Quality, Cost and Delivery (QCD) and greater engagement and the development of RE Cooke's people in continuous improvement. A drive to small batches and faster response was required whilst creating space for growth and generating productivity improvements.

Project Approach

The approach on the project was to communicate change effectively, involve key partners and customers, to train and set out the principles of lean and to complete focused and planned improvement activity against the defined requirements.

This was relayed at a project launch event supported by one of RE Cooke's largest clients, as well as, MAS WM, RE Cooke's management team, and all supervisors. The plan was broken into key stages:

  • Training in Lean Principles and Simulation Exercise
  • Diagnostic assessment and Value Stream Mapping
  • Action planning
  • Kaizen target workshops

The Actions - Kaizen

The improvement activity was focused through team based Kaizen activity workshops after a Value Stream Mapping exercise and diagnostic assessment was completed. This enabled the improvement activity to be prioritised. The key Kaizen activities were broken down to the following:

  • Machine shop layout and 5S
  • Robot welding change over improvement
  • Bending cell changeover improvement
  • Cost down (VA/VE) on major assemblies
  • Primary laser cutting process - optimising batches
  • Material handling methods - Trolley design
  • Batch size reduction

Each Kaizen workshop involved training in the lean tools such as 5s, the 7 Wastes and SMED, followed by hands-on activity with the team leader and relevant employees. Improvements were carried out during the event with feedback sessions and action planning held with managers at the end of each day.


  • Batch sizes reduced by 75%, and manufacturing lead time from 5 weeks to 5 days
  • Productivity increase of 23% to date
  • Space savings of 30% in some areas of the factory
  • Vastly improved 5S and flow of materials
  • 60% fewer stillages through the use of self-designed and built WIP trolleys and material handler to deliver the product to the right place

Award Winning

Following the success of the programme, RE Cooke went for the Midlands Excellence Special Award for Lean Efficiency, and won! The team were presented with their well-deserved award at a gala event at the ICC on the 29th of January 2009 - a great way to start a new year!

If you need help to compete through Continuous Improvement then please contact us.