Toyota Lean Academy supports Signify in lean leadership

Signify, previously known as Philips Lighting, is now a new company with a brand-new identity. Signify is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers as well as lighting for the Internet of things: connected lighting systems and data-enabled services deliver business value to customers and transform life in homes, buildings and spaces. With many factories worldwide come different challenges and opportunities.

Facts & figures

Company: Signify
Location: 40 manufacturing sites worldwide
Industry: Production of lamps and luminaires for gardens, streets, stores, stadiums, theatres, etc.
Process: High mix, high volume with a wide range of processes needed to produce a lamp from start to finish

Lean level: advanced

Signify has been on the lean journey for many years already and applies an advanced level of lean to their operations. Since they're not new to lean, their lean programme didn't start from a beginner level. They already used lean as a tool to involve all employees from the top all the way down to the factory floor in the change process. Their employees taking part in the lean trainings had high expectations and wanted to be challenged, expecting the lean advisors to elevate their knowledge of lean to a higher level.

The potential found in the Signify factories were related to quality cost, stock, cost & productivity targets, and working in changing environments, among others. That's why the company's request was not to focus solely on lean tools, but rather leadership and management to offer employees added value.

Tailored lean training

"Our first visit to Toyota was more engaging and offered more added value compared to previous lean trainings we attended," says Jan Verwerft, Lean Master at Signify. This triggered their decision to start up the 'plant management training' for leaders and plant managers. "The Gemba at Toyota offers the most value, and additionally we were able to tailor our programme specifically to what we were looking for: coaching for leadership and daily management."

The Toyota Lean Academy finds it essential to take all customer needs into account and tailors the training programme accordingly. The lean advisors investigate the current situation to compose an agenda with the right approach that is practical and pragmatic.

The source of lean

The main difference between Toyota and other lean consultancy agencies, is that Toyota actually is the source of lean. It has been applied throughout the company and its processes and the lean advisors themselves have experienced their own lean journey in the different factories and premises.

Therefore, during their training Signify went to the source of lean and TPS and were able to see it for themselves (genchi genbutsu). "We spent half of the time on the shop floor, so that we could experience lean and the TPS tools and culture in practice instead of doing a paper exercise," says Lars van der Meulen, Plant & Site Manager at Signify.

Signify's lean programme

Signify designed the agenda for their lean programme together with the lean advisors from Toyota. So customers, in addition to from standard training modules, can create an agenda according to their own specific needs. The training content was tailored to Signify's requests and went deeper into the following topics, even updating the agenda along the way:

leadership: what is the role of the leader in daily management and in problem solving
 quality management & problem solving
 standard work: procedures for specific situations
 kaizen events: training people, increasing their knowledge about lean tools
 eliminating waste & improving the flow
 change point management: visualising changes on the shop floor
 weak point management: practical way to drill down to the root cause of a problem

In total six trainings were organised so far, with 15 participants from different Signify manufacturing sites worldwide joining each one. The trainings took place at the Toyota Material Handling factories in Ancenis (France), Bologna (Italy) & Columbus, Indiana (US). Among the participants were plant managers, quality managers, operation managers, production managers and site lean deployment leaders.
Implementing lean in your company culture can be a difficult process which requires a lot of the management team to motivate all team members. So, upon their request, Signify has therefore been working further with the Toyota Lean Academy team more specifically on the development of lean leadership. They wanted to know more about the role of the group leader and the skills needed. The purpose was to train their leaders (plant managers from different manufacturing sites) to implement this directly at some of the Signify sites, but also to apply on a central and even a global level by implementing it into their hoshin.

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