LEAN in action

Weeks of full immersion in Lean culture for Avio Aero teams, from the Leadership Kaizen Week, with over 250 people engaged across five locations, to the Shinji Week in its second edition.

Jul 2022

For Lean culture, Kaizen is the act by which weaknesses become strengths through improvement resulting from people's observation and collaboration. For the first time, the Avio Aero factories in Bielsko Biala (Poland), Borgaretto, Brindisi and Rivalta (Italy) and Prague (Czech Republic) were involved in a joint activity - a special Kaizen Week from June 6 to 12 - that featured operators, management, technicians and all Lean experts who tried their hand at projects to support the company's priorities by going directly into the factory. Operating lines included specialized rooms, and laboratories.

A special feature of GE Leadership Week is “synchronization,” that is: at the same time-interval, in different plants around the world, GE allows people to practice kaizen. For Avio Aero, this opportunity was like a spark, igniting teams from different business functions bringing their teamwork to life and encouraging them to feel deeply reconnected, breaking down geographic distances and language barriers.

If we wanted to seek a sports comparison, one could see kaizen as dance or synchronized swimming: here each individual contributes his or her part, with shared and coordinated rhythms and moves, simultaneously. This takes place, however, with the enormous inspiration of knowing that we are not alone, rather we are part of a larger mechanism that is fully realized on the last day where we all take part in a report out talking about our results and progress.

An image of the Lean workout during the week at Avio Aero Bielsko Biala site (Poland).

During the Kaizen week, priority issues and KPIs for the company's business success were addressed, and each team provided great contributions, putting safety first.

The teams prioritized workstation safety and ergonomics, resulting in as many as 126 work area improvement ideas geared towards safety standards, most of which were already implemented during the week.

In the exercise alone, the sum of all contributions from all areas reached a reduction value of $682,000 in WIP (average processing time), which equates to circa 500 days of Lead Time (this figure defines the days in which a product reaches fruition and here it was aggregated macroscopically across multiple NPs and processes). In addition, we gained a total saving of meters traveled by our materials of 4810 KM/year. Finally, 12 quality improvement ideas were submitted and 58 trees were saved from deforestation for paper production.

A team in Rivalta plant works at the Lead time reduction in service area, with Functional Leaders engaged.

In fact, Avio Aero teams specializing in Lean have worked tirelessly over the past 3 months to create the conditions so that other teams from a variety of business functions could focus directly on proposing and implementing improvements, without having to waste time searching for missing information during the week, but instead providing data collection to support necessary decisions that could be made in a matter of days. This was made possible by a pre-work scheme planned according to an established method.

During Kaizen week, the Avio Aero leadership was actively involved in the teams, setting aside, for a week, professional roles and routines, practicing the genba - according to the Japanese definition, a walk through the place where production processes take place - and rediscovering ever new details that form the continuous image of our transformation.

Genba walk inside the Prague plant, with the senior leadership in front of machines.

This is the spirit of genba, that is, the ability to listen, understand and see reality, without interference and transposition: going out to explore and observe the places where work is carried out, touching and feeling with one's own eyes. In its extraordinary simplicity, genba never stops teaching us something new.

In recent weeks, at another plant, Pomigliano, the Shingijutsu Week was also staged: the kaizen model proposed by the pioneers of Lean (the company Shingijutsu Global Consulting). According to this model, “Continuous Kaizen” is the response to identifying and addressing initial problems encountered in a process or work area.

The Sensei speaking during the Shingijutsu week in Avio Aero Pomigliano.

For the second consecutive year, our plant was selected to host Japanese sensei and work alongside them to learn how to transform and overcome limitations. Furthermore, the same experience will be brought this fall to Avio Aero's other major Italian plant, Brindisi.

The energy exuded during weeks like these is unparalleled; it actually allows many other colleagues to contribute in tangible ways to improvement (even if they are not directly on the production line), because it manages to unify people, increasing their ability to take in and make change, thus enhancing their experience.