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Implementing Lean Solutions for Engineering Workflow Transformation

Team Building By Jun 13, 2024 No Comments

In my previous posts, we explored the challenges faced by engineering teams working with offshore design support offices and how lean principles can help streamline workflows. This week, we’ll look at specific lean solutions we implemented that can transform engineering workflows and achieve better outcomes.

Streamlining Information Flow

One major issue identified was the disorganised flow of information, leading to delays and miscommunication. To address this, we established direct communication channels between the offshore BIM team and the local engineering team, reducing the need for intermediaries and speeding up the resolution of queries. We developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) for common tasks to ensure consistency and reduce variability in the work process. These SOPs underwent thorough review and approval by relevant stakeholders to ensure accuracy and compliance. We trained employees on the SOPs and made sure they had easy access to the updated procedures.

Improved Information Flow Diagram

Streamlining information flow leads to significant cost savings by identifying and eliminating waste in processes, while also enhancing workflow efficiency and productivity (Nowotarski et al., 2016).

Old process versus new process, eliminating wasted time

Adopting Visual Management

Visual management tools were introduced to enhance transparency and track progress in real time. We implemented digital Kanban boards to visually track the status of tasks, allowing both local and offshore teams to see work progress at a glance and identify bottlenecks early. Custom dashboards were also created to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and provide insights into workflow efficiency and areas for improvement. Leveraging these visual management tools, we enhanced transparency, communication, and collaboration within our engineering teams, leading to improved project performance and efficiency.

Visual management tools like Kanban boards lead to higher productivity by focusing on high-value activities, and improved tracking of tasks, deadlines, and progress reduces the likelihood of delays and ensures timely project delivery (Nowotarski et al., 2016).

Enhancing Quality and Reducing Rework

Quality issues were a significant concern, often leading to rework and missed deadlines. To tackle this, we adopted a root cause analysis approach using the “5 Whys” method. This technique helped us identify the root causes of recurring quality issues by iteratively asking “why” a particular issue occurred, allowing us to uncover deeper underlying causes and implement corrective actions. We introduced regular “lessons learned” sessions to review completed projects, identify improvement opportunities, and implement changes in future projects. These sessions promoted a culture of continuous improvement and enabled us to optimize our processes over time.

Staging modelling to align with construction sequencing was one of the biggest lessons learnt from our ‘5 whys’

Examples of root cause analysis in action include the 5 Whys technique, which was used in a manufacturing plant to investigate repeated equipment breakdowns, leading to improved maintenance scheduling and reduced downtime, and the Fishbone Diagram, which analyzed delays in project timelines in a construction firm, identifying poor coordination among subcontractors as a significant root cause (Peerally et al., 2016).

Developing a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Creating a culture of continuous improvement was crucial for sustaining the gains achieved. We invested in training programs for both local and offshore teams to enhance their skills and knowledge of lean principles. By providing comprehensive training on lean methodologies, we equipped our employees with the tools and skills needed to identify inefficiencies, propose solutions, and drive improvement initiatives. We empowered team members to identify and implement improvements, fostering a sense of ownership and accountability. Recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions to continuous improvement initiatives reinforced a culture that values innovation and problem-solving.

Fostering a culture of continuous improvement involves encouraging active participation and input from employees, and providing training on continuous improvement methodologies to equip them with the tools needed to drive improvement initiatives (Nowotarski et al., 2016).

Leadership and Lean Management

Effective leadership plays a pivotal role in the successful implementation of lean principles. As discussed in my previous posts on leadership, authentic leadership builds trust within the team by being genuine and transparent. By leading with authenticity, we create an environment where team members feel valued and motivated to contribute to continuous improvement efforts. Transformational leadership is also crucial in driving the adoption of lean principles. As highlighted in “Transformational Leadership: Navigating the Future of Digital Innovation,” transformational leaders inspire and motivate teams to embrace change and foster innovative thinking.

The influence of leadership styles on lean adoption is significant, with transformational leadership inspiring and motivating teams to embrace change and continuously improve, while servant leadership promotes employee engagement and a focus on customer value (Nowotarski et al., 2016).

Wrapping Up

Implementing these lean solutions has significantly improved our engineering workflows, leading to better collaboration, higher-quality deliverables, and more efficient project execution. By streamlining information flow, adopting visual management tools, enhancing quality through root cause analysis, developing a culture of continuous improvement, and leveraging effective leadership styles, we have transformed our engineering workflows and achieved remarkable results. As we continue on this lean journey, we remain committed to fostering a culture of continuous improvement and delivering exceptional value to our clients.

Have you implemented lean solutions in your workflows? Share your experiences and insights in the comments below. We would love to learn from your successes and challenges in adopting lean principles. Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll discuss the long-term impact of these changes and how we plan to sustain our lean transformation.

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