The Manufacturing Institute

What does world-class look like?

Noel Hennessy, Continuous Improvement Director, Lake Region Medical

In June 2012, Lake Region Medical was very proud to become the first medical device manufacturer in Europe to be awarded the prestigious Shingo Bronze Medallion.

When we first began thinking about challenging for the Shingo Prize back in 2010, we believed our manufacturing plant in New Ross, County Wexford was ready for it.

However, after attending a Shingo workshop, our eyes were opened at the task ahead of us. Until this point I think it was fair to say we hadn’t fully comprehended how much of a major learning curve it would be for our business and employees.

We regrouped and immediately began to align our company goals for 2010 with the principles, systems and tools of the Shingo model for operational excellence. Then in September of that year we invited The Manufacturing Institute to carry out a benchmarking assessment, which provided an independent analysis of our company performance. We were really impressed with the comprehensive report which the Institute produced. In the two days they had covered every area of the plant and managed to capture clearly where our strengths and opportunities lay.

The report itself made very interesting reading. While extremely complimentary of our working practices, the assessors had identified what could only be described as a major flaw. Much of our excellent work was ‘champion led’ which raised the question, what happens if the champion leaves? Will the good work leave as well?

With the support of The Manufacturing Institute, we began to drive forward improvements and develop the systems which would support and drive the right culture and behaviours within our company. This meant ensuring all plant activities were focused clearly in line with the company’s goals and five-year strategy, and that fostering employee engagement was at the heart of what we do.

It’s been almost three and a half years since we started out on our Shingo journey and it now makes me very proud to see Lake Region Medical as the newest addition to the Shingo honours list.

As a company, the value of the model has been absolutely invaluable. The fact that it is based on well-established principles and encompasses all stakeholders provides a truly enterprise-wide system that our company applies to connect up all parts of the business.

The global standard of Shingo also demonstrates to our customers the determination we have to reach the highest standards of operations and set an international benchmark. Since recognition, our reputation has improved greatly amongst existing and potential companies. We are now seen as a centre of excellence, with customers regularly requesting to visit the site and learn from our achievements. Rather than seen as an end in itself, achieving Shingo Bronze accreditation has inspired our employees to up the pace of continuous improvement to a point where they feel both empowered and obliged to search for excellence as part of their daily routine.

Only now do we know that we are truly world-class.

Noel Hennessy is Continuous Improvement Director at Lake Region Medical, a global leader in the development and manufacture of OEM devices, supplying the world’s largest medical device companies with minimally invasive delivery solutions. It is an industry expert in developing and marketing medical devices to meet unique clinical challenges for cardiovascular, stimulation therapy, neurovascular, and peripheral vascular applications, serving all major markets worldwide.

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