Case Studies

LSSE Helps Emerging
Manufacturing Company
Improve Productivity
by 60%

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Business Challenge:

Some of the challenges the aluminum and steel manufacturing industry faces everyday are the timeliness between tasks and the increase in waste it can cause. Our client had a challenge with excess transportation and handling from the producing machinery to the washer flow causing a serious waste problem with oily crates, oily floors and use and waste of plastic lining. As there was so much waste, this job also required the hard work of 5 people.

Processes are not necessarily laid out to facilitate flow. The layout typically evolves from the standpoint of “where will it fit” rather than “how does it need to be laid out to facilitate flow". This approach typically results in multiple types of waste including excess WIP (work in process), handling, transportation, and over-production.

Our client came to us with the determination to eliminate these unnecessary wastes and were ready for a positive change. Together with the help of our LSSE Sr. consultant, the overall goals and objectives were:

– Implement 1 safety & ergonomic improvements per team member

– Improve Productivity by 20%

– Reduce Lead Time & WIP

– Implement Standard Work for all operations

How LSSE Helped:

LSSE utilized the kaizen approach to address the challenges. A Kaizen event focuses the work efforts of 8 to 10 people to come together and implement the solution to a problem. This is accomplished with 3-4 weeks of preparation, prior to the week-long Kaizen event. Both the consultant and the team members work hard to make sure that everyone is on board with the upcoming changes and that there is a mutual understanding that these changes will carry positive growth in the company.

The team came up with a layout where the operations were relocated side by side, thus eliminating the transportation, handling, and batching associated with moving the WIP between machines. In addition, this helped remove the cleaning of oily crates, floors and usage of plastic lining. Also, they optimized processes based on takt time and improved productivity by 60%.

By using the lean tools taught by our consultant, our client was able to integrate its process through eliminating cleanup, transportation time, and overproduction in inventory. The 5-day process improvement event could not have been successful without the dedication of the cross functional team members being able to identify the issues and with help implementing the changes through lean steps. By utilizing the lean methods in the changes that needed to occur, each person participating felt valued and excited for what is to come.

Cutting Edge
Laparoscopic Manufacturer
Trims Time Off
Purchasing Process

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Business Challenge:

Our Client identified their purchasing process as a pain point. The existing process took too long and orders weren’t getting process in a timely manner. As a result, manufacturing operations were sometimes delayed because they didn’t have the supplies needed for production.
They tried to improve the process on their own, but were met with limited success. In an effort to make a breakthrough they contacted LSSE for outside help. A Lean expert from LSSE evaluated the purchasing process and determined that a Kaizen event could greatly improve the existing process. The objectives of this event were to:

  • Reduce the cycle time of creating a PO

  • Reduce the travel distance the document makes by 50%/li>

  • Improve quality of inputs/information coming from purchasing

  • Implement visual control board for monitoring performance

  • Implement 5S

  • Make 1 safety or ergonomic improvement per team member

How LSSE Helped:

Together with the help of a cross functional team, LSSE captured the current state process and identified key wastes that could be eliminated during the week-long event. The team then mapped out a future state for the process that is focused on value added activities. By eliminating the waste, purchasers are able to focus on activities that bring value to the organization. One of the objectives in this event was to reduce the travel distance the requests made. The team created an electronic document that eliminated the need for any travel. This document made two major improvements to the process.

First, it increased the quality of the requests by using clearly defined input fields that are critical for the request processer. Second, it made the submission and review of the request electronic so there was no longer a need for anyone to hand carry the request from person to person in order to get approval.

The last actions of the group were to set up a training plan and schedule to introduce the new purchase request tool to the organization. They have begun tracking performance of the new system on a visual management board. This board is posted in a high traffic area so everyone can see it.

Results Delivered:

The Kaizen event resulted in all the predetermined objectives being met. The processing time for a request was reduced by 61-73%, travel distance for the document was completely eliminated, 5S practices were implemented, and the quality of the inputs for the request went up dramatically.

The goal of Lean events is to decrease lead time. That was one of the defined objectives of this event, but there are other benefits of implementing Lean. As a result of this event, our Client not only reduced the cycle time and travel distance of processing a purchase request, they also created an annualized savings of over $31,000. The goal wasn’t to save any money, but the side benefits of implementing Lean often result in cost savings.

LSSE Partners with
Software Company to
Define and Improve
Current State Operations

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Business Challenge:

A combination of outdated methodologies and undefined business processes contributed to variations in the implementation of services. These variations made it very difficult to forecast annual sales and determine appropriate work force size. The current processes were not defined or well understood. As a result, implementation teams were all using slightly different methodologies on their individual projects. Best practices were only loosely established and not often shared between internal departments. The resulting effects were wide variations in lead time for providing a service and unpredictability in forecasting annual sales.

Under the direction of new leadership, our client contracted LSSE to help define the current services and their respective offerings. The company has grown dramatically in the last few years and is expected to continue its growth trend well into the future. The question posed to LSSE was, “How can we do more with the same number of employees we have now?”

The first step in creating a more productive process is understanding what the current process is. There are always speculations about what’s currently happening and what the problems are, but until an accurate model is created all the speculation is purely subjective. Problem areas need to be identified based on evidence, not speculation. In doing this, LSSE was able to identify critical areas for improvement that will yield measureable results.

How LSSE Helped:

Through a combination of workshops and 1-on-1 interviews, we were able to capture the current state in a series of process maps. These maps were customized to the specific needs of our client. By combining elements from value stream mapping and process mapping, we created a highly informative and intuitive tool used for analyzing current processes.

As a result of this deep analysis, we were able to identify the key pain points that were plaguing the organization. Once those pain points were identified, a root cause analysis was performed. Based on this evaluation a team was selected to address the root causes.

A future state is being developed to correct the major issues that were discovered during this project. This future state will take into account the problems that were identified as affecting productivity and efficiency. Future state improvements will also address many of the wastes identified during the current state analysis.

Results Delivered:

There were significant differences in the time it took to develop a service solution for a new customer and our client was interested in finding out why there was so much variation in their process. They looked to LSSE for help defining their current state and identifying critical gaps. LSSE was also used to identify the key pain points in the existing process and isolate the root causes.

The output of this project was a comprehensive process analysis that lead to the identification of key problems and their causes. Understanding these issues was critical for assessing what changes needed to happen in order to become more productive and take on more work.

By capturing an accurate snap shot of our client’s current implementation processes we were able to focus improvement efforts on the critical areas for rapid transformation. This current state analysis was the foundation for improvement projects across the organization. By using a detailed current state mapping approach, we were able to resolve internal disputes on problem areas and focus the efforts of the company on processes that will make the biggest impact.


Business Analysts such as Aberdeen, suggest that workers hired as contingent or temporary employees make up as much as 25% of the global work force. With these numbers continuing to rise, it is no wonder why companies are looking for work force management companies to help solve their labor needs.

In the midst of this growing industry our client, who is world leader in providing workforce management software service (SaaS), was faced with developing a strategy to facilitate their customer’s need for new and expanded services. Business was growing so fast they were in danger of missing opportunities due to a lack in capacity. Under their current methodologies they were only able to take on a limited amount of new work each year. Rather than immediately increasing their own workforce to accommodate the increase in demand, they sought out the expertise of LSSE to help initiate best practices within their industry.

LSSE was brought in to clearly define a baseline for the Sales and Implementation processes along with identifying pain points in these areas and their associated root causes. This baseline would be the launch pad for creating a better, more efficient future state for implementation services.

Process Helps
Retain Product Line

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Business Challenge:

It’s common practice in the manufacturing industry for customers to require annualized cost saving programs from their suppliers. These programs are becoming more and more aggressive as time goes on. With so many companies worldwide that are competing for a share of the market it is increasingly important to operate at maximum efficiency.

In some instances it is possible to achieve these goals by making slow steady improvements that positively impact quality and cost. However, some situations require a more radical transformation. When our Client was told by one of their biggest customers to reduce a product line’s cost by 15% or lose that business to China, they knew a change was needed and it needed to happen fast. They understood the value outside perspective could give to their situation and together with LSSE, worked toward a solution.

It was decided that a Kaizen event would be the most effective means of transformation. The scope of this event was to accomplish the following:

  • Implement 1 safety or ergonomic improvement per team member

  • Reduce lead time and WIP by 50%

  • Increase productivity by 20%

  • Optimize inspection

  • Improve 5S score by 1

  • Implement control chart to maintain improvement

How LSSE Helped:

Prior to the project scope definition, LSSE performed an onsite assessment of the process in order to determine whether or not the cost reduction being asked for was feasible. A product matrix was created to show the products historical production rate, scrap costs, overhead, contribution to margin, and long range forecast. A mutual consensus was reached and the decision was made to move forward with the Kaizen event. The event consisted of 9 internal team members and 1 LSSE facilitator. The team was made up of participants from every department within the organization.

LSSE uses a 5 day Kaizen event model. Day 1 consists of Lean Manufacturing training for all team members. This is used to teach the core concepts behind Lean and plant the seed of “Lean Thinking” in the minds of participants. Training and understanding the implementation of the skills you learned is key to developing a lean culture.

The following day is used to capture the current state and map the value stream. Team members collect machine cycle times, operator cycle times, WIP counts, travel distances, perform 5S audits, and identify wastes. The information is brought back to the group for discussion. A future state is then mapped out.

On day 3 a production cell was created. This cell was based on the concept of continuous flow processing instead of the batch processing that was occurring prior to the event. The area was rearranged and all the relevant processing steps were brought into the cell.

The fourth day consisted of creating a new standard work process and executing to that process. Operators were evaluated as they ran production in the new cell and slight modifications were made to enhance ergonomics and maximize efficiency.

On the final day of the event all the team members presented the project to the company. The presentation showed the evolution from an aging process with excessive waste to a lean cellular process.

Results Delivered:

The results of this event gave our Client the ability to not only keep the product, but their orders were actually increased. By implementing the core concepts of Lean Manufacturing we were able to achieve the goals need for success.

The results of this Kaizen are an example of what is possible when an organization is willing to take on the challenges of change in pursuit of improvement.

This event resulted in a 67% increase in productivity, 94.8% decrease in lead time and a total cost savings of $151,230.


In the competitive global OEM market, organizations are constantly forced to reevaluate their processes and provide cost savings to their customers. With the continued progression of China’s industrial capabilities, manufacturing companies in the US are striving for ways to reduce waste and lower operating costs.

When faced with the challenge of reducing the price on a product line by 15% or losing the work to an overseas competitor, our Client partnered with LSSE to come up with a solution. The results not only met the expectation of the customer, but they exceeded them by simultaneously reducing lead time and improving quality.

Kaizen Events
Increase Profit Margin
by 22%

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Business Challenge:

Our Client determined that they had a failing product line. The margin on the line in question was -3% and they needed to know whether it was worth trying to salvage or if they should drop it and reallocate the resources to a new product that was about to go into production. The reasons for this deficiency weren’t apparent.
They either had to hire more operators to run the new product line or move the existing operators from the failing line. In order to make a decision based on data, they looked to LSSE for help analyzing the situation.
After a two day evaluation, it was decided that we would try to save the existing product line. A Kaizen event would be conducted to focus on eliminating the wastes in the process and attempt to make it profitable.

The objectives of this event were to accomplish the following:

  • Implement 1 safety or ergonomic improvement per team member

  • Increase weekly output to 5000 units

  • Reduce lead time and WIP by 50%

  • Implement Standard Work

  • Improve 5S score by 1

  • Implement control chart to maintain improvements

How LSSE Helped:

A LSSE Lean expert joined a cross functional team to tackle this project. The team was made up of a CNC machine operator, Wire EDM operator, quality inspector, maintenance technician, document control coordinator, manufacturing engineer, quality engineer, and a prototype machinist. This team was selected in order to combine operational knowledge with fresh perspective.

It’s important to involve unbiased, or outside, people in order to bring new perspective to a situation. All too often we put on blinders and say “we do it this way because that’s the way it’s always been done”. If you come into a process improvement event with that mindset, you’re probably going to get results very similar to what you started with. That’s why it’s important to organize a diverse team and come in with the willingness to change.

With the help of the Lean training provided by LSSE during this event, wastes were identified and value added activities were optimized. We focused on creating a cell that operated at the rhythm of the takt time. We discovered that in order to meet takt one of the operations in the cell didn’t need to run continuously. This meant that we could free up an operator on each shift and still meet our daily production needs. By reducing the number of operators in the cell we were able to lower costs on the part and use the operators in the newly developed product line.

Results Delivered:

The results of this event gave our Client the ability to not only keep the product line in question, they were also able to reallocate resources to a new line. Effectively they were able to do more work with the same number of people they currently had. By implementing the core concepts of Lean Manufacturing we were able to achieve the goals needed for success.

The success of this event increased the profit margin by 22%, freed up 2 operators to run the new product line, and resulted in an annualized savings of $496,237.

Case Study File:

Lean Kaizen Event