LEAN, DIGITAL AND SUSTAINABILITY - How digital and technology can enable sustainability, but through thinking Lean first.
The 2022 KZN Lean conference organised recently by the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business (PMCB), focused on how to develop and empower teams to think differently to enable business to be agile, productive and environmentally responsible. International and local keynote speakers plus case studies from Toyota, Hulamin and Pre-formed line Products (PLP) highlighted the benefits of applying Lean problem-solving tools in eliminating wasteful efforts and inefficiencies in processes. A key message shared that embraces the Lean culture is “Go see, ask questions and show respect”.
Conference highlights include:
Darryl Powell, Chief Scientist and Research Manager at SINTEF Manufacturing shared insights with how “Lean paves the way for successful digital transformation (digital strategy) and digitalization (use of digital technologies) enhances Lean practices. Dr. Powell presented his research with Lean and digital transformations and shared how industrial companies must understand how these two approaches can be adopted to overcome the economical, social and environmental challenges of our generation.
Senior Lecturer on sustainable enterprise at the University of Buckingham, Rose Heathcote shared how thinking Lean improves competitiveness, resilience and the world. It equips organisations in creating a sustainable climate and economy for future generations to benefit from. We were encouraged to use biodegradable and durable materials, procure from local suppliers, use clean renewable energy and be responsible with sourcing products.
Sustainable thinking is about building people and skills before your product. The future-fit skills include critical thinking and problem-solving. Rose shared how we need to build Lean and Green skills in our business and create a circular economy which is regenerative and fuelled by renewable energy, products and materials. We also discovered that there are 7 green wastes which include – Energy, water, materials, garbage, transport, emissions, biodiversity
Why is sustainable thinking important? Here are a few stats about the planets vitals: We have 17 years until the earth runs out of water unless water use is drastically reduced. 27 years before there is more plastic in the ocean than fish and 27 years before the earth runs out of food if global food systems are not transformed.
Toyota SA Lean team shared practical examples of sustainable changes and how they have improved the automotive factory by eliminating the waste of motion and inventory. They have addressed these challenges through continuous improvement projects identified which is making a big impact. The team shared how there is value in every second and every second costs money. Toyota’s Environmental challenge 2050 includes six visionary challenges which aim to minimise water usage and carbon emissions to address global environmental issues.
Mike Stopforth, CEO of Social Media Agency Cerebra and 48HOURS shared the incredible lean turnaround story of everybody’s favourite brand, LEGO. Mike explained how Lego, an international family-owned toy company was facing bankruptcy. Diversifying their product offering by believing people needed more choice was the wrong approach and ultimately led to unsuccessful ventures and major debt. A new CEO appointed in 2004 who strategically coordinated innovation and through a cross-functional team managed to turn-around the company and become one of the greatest turn-around stories in our corporate history. Real change relies on maverick leadership.
Mike shared examples of how technology will solve problems and is an amplifier but not an antibiotic for our business problems. Before improving processes or systems with implementing technology or automation one needs to standardise and streamline processes first.
Other highlights from an informative and insightful conference included local South African case studies from Hulamin (aluminium products) and PLP (Transmission and distribution hardware designer and manufacturer). These case studies provided an opportunity to see Lean in action through pictures of both manufacturing plants and examples of improvement projects implemented.
We ended the conference with a practical tour of the Hesto Harnessfactory in KwaDukuza. A group of 30 enthusiastic businesspeople experienced a fascinating tour seeing lean principles in action and experiencing the purposeful culture. Hesto Harness manufacture wiring harnesses for the automotive industry. They apply the Toyota Production System (TPS) management philosophy and practices daily to achieve phenomenal results with employing 8000 people.
KZN Lean Conference 2022 hosted by :
KZN Lean Conference 2022 proudly sponsored by :