Case Study: Jewellery Manufacturer and Retailer

This company is a specialised jewellery retailer offering unique quality and service.  Their two stores in Canterbury and Brighton offer quality products, tailored manufacturing and professional sales service embodied in their core values of trust, service and specialisation.

In 2014, the company had a strong desire to improve their processes by reducing waste and reworking.  More so, they would like to improve the overall work culture and morale by making it a happier workplace. The business has been around for more than 40 years and it has sustained its foundation through trust, service and specialisation.  They would like to take it to the next level of improvement.

My first steps was to help the business with a complete and thorough business analysis.  This included a value steam analysis (value stream map and value stream design), culture and morale survey, Lean business health check, and some savings calculation opportunities for improvement projects.

The methodologies included an interview with every employee, conducting confidential surveys, analysing some of their reports and information and observing their overall operation and how they interacted with their product, processes and with each other.

The main outcomes of the analysis were around understanding the ‘voice of the customer’ (mainly the internal customers), standardisation, visual and KPI management and 5S which all lead to a cost saving opportunity of approximately $320,000 per year.

After mapping the entire order and manufacturing process, it was important that people’s processes were aligned to what the person next in line is needed.  It is about getting the accurate and achievable design, the right information, a timely delivery, and quality issues flagged immediately if there was any deviation, and so on.  Communication through the value stream across different department was just so key.  This should then be supported by ensuring standardisation across their procedures, work instructions, Key Performance Indicators or metrics, and having an effective 5S workplace organisation methodology and mindset in place.

Their sales manager and production manager later attended a 3-day practitioner’s course on Lean Manufacturing as their first step in implementation.  Participants who undertake this program get certified as competent in value stream maps, 5S, identifying and reducing wastes, visual management and other Lean tools and methodologies and achieve an international certification.  After the course, both participants have implemented a number of projects (5S, pull system, communication, and standardisation of inventory management processes) back at their workplace. This has delivered great improvements aligned to their improvement objectives as per the initial findings.

The business outcomes and results have been excellent and the business continues to grow.  More importantly, after running another culture and morale survey, these Lean initiatives have certainly made the place a happier place for all employees (refer to chart below).  This outcome is an EXCELLENT and SUSTAINABLE result as more than just implementing methods and tools, it’s about how people feel and how they could continuously contribute in improving business.

Culture and Morale Survey Results

(massive improvement from the red to the blue line) – all employees answered a number of questions in each of these categories rating from 1-5 (5 being the highest).

Jewellery manufacturer Culture graph2

Legend:

Red line – survey at the start of the analysis
Green line – industry average
Blue line – results 12 months after the program, after actions were implemented