By Daniel Hunter

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, is launching a new Lean Academy for mid-sized companies and SMEs. The move will give smaller manufacturers the same access to market-leading, transformational techniques as their larger peers.

Lean is a business-model and management approach geared around continuously improving processes and efficiency, leading to greater productivity. It has been readily adopted by industry heavy-weights, such as JCB and Caterpillar. In the largest of companies it is typically delivered via intensely practical, company-relevant Lean Academies, which require significant investment.

The cost of a dedicated Lean Academy has put this world-class technique out of reach for many mid-sized and SME manufacturers, but EEF’s new Lean Academy will finally level the playing field. It will allow smaller companies to learn ‘game-changing’ methods to boost their efficiency and growth — without the hefty outlay and in a way that guarantees sustainability and immediate gains.

EEF’s new Lean Academy is built around a full-scale, configurable and transportable modular assembly line, which can be reconfigured daily to challenge a company’s employees as they work through a 12 day programme. This makes the exercises real-to-life and relevant to the individual business. The content of the Academy is bespoke, making it even easier for employees to apply the techniques successfully in their workplace.

It also overcomes a key criticism of previous attempts to provide Lean Academy training to mid-sized and SME manufacturers, which is that practical exercises were limited to desk-top scale using Lego or 3-pin plugs.

The new Academy can be run at an individual company’s premises or at EEF’s state-of-the-art technical training centre in Aston, near Birmingham.

Dr Steve Chicken CEng MIED, Manufacturing Growth Director at EEF, said: “This is a vital step forward in giving mid-sized and SME manufacturers the same access to game-changing techniques to boost efficiency and growth as their larger peers.

“While recognising the potential to transform their business, for many smaller companies the cost of a dedicated Lean Academy is prohibitive while the desk-top versions are unrealistic and difficult to apply in the workplace. Our new Academy solves both these issues and lifts the barriers preventing smaller manufacturers from taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by Lean.”

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