Lean manufacturing generates big efficiency savings at Ecodrive

Truck repair mechanic with wrenches in pocketAt Ecodrive Transmissions we are committed to efficient working practices. We try to return jobs to customers as quickly as possible while at the same time minimising waste.

We estimate that the adoption of lean manufacturing principles has reduced the average job turnaround time by 10%.

Lean manufacturing is a model of production which creates efficiencies by eliminating waste. Lean has become the hot buzzword on shop floors up and down the country, but companies have seen mixed results after trying to implement the lean model.

As the technical sector in the UK is returned to its former glory, it is crucial that lean manufacturing is implemented effectively. Ecodrive has adopted lean enthusiastically, but we believe that we can still do more to get customers back on the road faster.

Lean working examples at Ecodrive

The most significant change made at Ecodrive is the reorganisation of the workshop. We have sought to create the most efficient workshop ‘flow’, tracing a job’s natural progression through to completion.

Workshop layout was a top priority for the lean implementation team. We moved tools, storage racks and lifting equipment to make sure every technician has what they need close by.

Graham Evans, Technical Director at Ecodrive Transmissions says the changes have made a huge difference to daily workshop life: “The transformation is really quite remarkable – if you visited us a few years ago you probably wouldn’t recognise the shop floor today.

“Issues like tool hoarding and not being able to find the right sized spanners have all but disappeared. Getting rid of these minor everyday problems has saved us a lot of time and I think it’s had a positive impact on workforce morale too.”

Another change implemented at Ecodrive is monitoring stock turnover ratios more closely. By monitoring stock turnover every two weeks it means that we can be sure that we have the right parts and components in stock at all times.

This helps us turn jobs over more quickly and prevents the build-up of unnecessary equipment. Changes such as these have made a big impact on efficiency and competitiveness.

Graham continued: “the lean changes have earned us a reputation for turning jobs around quickly. We know how important it is for our clients to get back on the road and anything which helps us work more efficiently and reduce waste is more than welcome.

“Credit is due to the technicians who might have been a little sceptical at first, but have since adopted the changes wholeheartedly. Particularly when they realised that lean manufacturing made their lives a lot easier.”

Graham has high hopes for lean manufacturing in the future: “we hope to continue increasing efficiency year on year and hope that others in the industry follow suit.

“The recent revival of British technical sectors no doubt owes a lot to the adoption of lean working models, but my instinct tells me that there is more to be done if we want to successfully rebalance the economy away from services towards more tangible goods.”