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Lean Implementation at Medtronic Xomed

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Customer-Focused quality is their highest priority and Lean Manufacturing is its methodology.

Lean Manufacturing Medtronic Xomed of Jacksonville, Florida has been the leading manufacturer of medical devices for eye, ear, nose, and throat surgery for twenty-five years. Why? It embraces change. It pursues perfection by developing values, principles, and processes that increase customer satisfaction and reduce waste throughout the company. Members of the organization have common goals. They are committed to improving customer quality and increasing production fill rates, revenue dollars per employee, and inventory turns. They strive to reduce production lead-time and to eliminate waste. Efforts are constantly being made to better utilize manufacturing space and to optimize the workforce. Customer-Focused quality is Medtronic Xomed's highest priority and Lean Manufacturing is its methodology.

Medtronic Xomed is a division of Medtronic, the world's leading medical technology company ($5B in annual revenue). They provide lifelong solutions for people with diseases and medical conditions.

The Lean journey at Medtronic Xomed began when Jerry Bussell, Vice President of Global Operations, returned from a professional conference and shared the benefits of a Lean organization. Like an architect, Jerry set out to design a blueprint to build a Lean organization first in Operations and then throughout the entire company. He contacted Larry Coté President of Lean Advisors Inc. and arranged for Lean Training. With blueprint in hand, Jerry Bussell became a Lean visionary at Medtronic Xomed. He championed the Lean cause and became a persuasive change agent.
Lean Foundation Executives and middle management were the first to inspect the Lean implementation blueprint. They attended presentations that explained Lean Manufacturing principles and expounded the benefits of Lean. As understanding grew, so did commitment. Leaders embraced Lean Manufacturing because they understood how a Lean mindset could increase system efficiency throughout the entire organization. A Lean perspective would allow employees to identify and eliminate non-value added processes and to create or improve value-added processes. Mental paradigms shifted and a desire to reinvent processes grew. Lean leaders emerged and Lean prevailed. The construction team agreed on the Lean organization blueprint.

Before a Lean foundation could be poured, excavation was needed. Mental debris that prohibited organization changes had to be removed. Leaders were asked to think differently. They were asked to think lean! Supervisors and managers renewed their commitment to customer-focused quality and became boundaryless as they addressed process and performance issues. They were encouraged to challenge the status quo. A "healthy dissatisfaction" of existing processes was promoted. The effectiveness of policies, procedures, and processes was questioned. Employees were invited to offer innovative and creative solutions for process improvements. Increased accountability was welcomed. Employee training was used to increase employee buy-in and participation. These efforts established an agenda and environment for change. Lean principles gained momentum as mental obstacles were removed from the Medtronic Xomed construction site.

Lean leaders met and agreed on guiding principles that directed decision making and planning. These principles served as the content of a mission statement. A Lean mission statement declared, "Every activity of our organization must create value in the eyes of our customers." Lean principles reinforced this mission statement. Employees committed to:

  • Accurately specify Value

  • Identify the entire Value Stream

  • Make the value-creating steps of products and services continuously flow

  • Let customers pull value from our enterprise

  • Pursue perfection by reducing efforts, cost, and mistakes.

The Lean organization was constructed on a foundation that was reinforced by a commitment to customer satisfaction and quality.
Value Stream Mapping Before the Lean organization could be framed, construction foremen had to be assigned work areas and given tools. Manufacturing Managers became Value Stream managers. These lean leaders were trained to assume the responsibilities of managing value streams. They were assigned product lines or services. They systematically identified product families based on shared processes. Value stream managers were accountable for creating value and reducing waste in their production processes or services. How would they succeed? They were trained to utilize one of the most important Lean tools - the value stream map.

Lean Advisors Inc., taught thirty value steam managers and team leaders the art of Value Stream Mapping. Participants learned how to calculate takt-time, draw current and future-state value stream maps, and to create operator balance charts. Value Stream Mapping provided value stream managers with important information concerning the communication and production flow of their processes and services.

Participants learned how to identify constraints on the value stream maps and how to write value stream improvement plans. The tools were provided and the workers were anxious to begin raising the walls of the Lean organization.

The Lean organization construction project needed to stay on schedule. A master schedule for Value Stream Mapping forty-eight value streams was created by Jon Swanson, Manufacturing Director, and Paul Damian, Director of the Lean Continuous Improvement Office. Value Steam managers were assigned to teams to map the Value Streams of their assigned product families. The Value Stream Mapping crew collaborated as they mapped value streams, calculated takt times, drew operator balance charts, and wrote value stream improvement plans. A presentation was prepared and given by the value stream manager to a value stream review team. Improvement plans were not just written they were executed. Results were monitored and measured. An implementation team assessed the improvement process. Value Stream managers received the tools necessary to identify waste and create value in each process of their value steams. They were empowered to make change and were held accountable for improvements. The Lean organization was no longer a blueprint; it had structure. Members of the teams learned together. The Lean organization had windows, heat, and plenty of electricity.
Lean Office The Medtronic Xomed Lean organization was under full construction. Many tasks were occurring simultaneously. To coordinate the tasks, the Office of Lean Improvement was created. This office consisted of three people, a director, Paul Damian, a trainer Rick Kundert, and a facilitator Kathi Howard. This team coordinated the efforts of Lean Implementation. The team directed and supported the Lean efforts of the Value Stream managers and employees. Ten Lean Learning Labs were written and presented. These learning sessions occurred once a week for one hour and were presented to over 300 employees. The theme of the labs was consistent, "Create value and reduce waste in each step of every process in your work area." Lean Learning Labs emphasized team work, problem solving, visual management, the Toyota 5S System, Muda (waste) reduction, production flow and pull, and the constant pursuit of perfection.

Lean Culture With Lean Training came understanding and employee participation. A Lean culture emerged. Six months of Lean Training created an educated and motivated workforce. Employees recognized the need for visual control, kanban, standardized measurements, takt imaging, and just-in-time (JIT) production scheduling. They helped redesigned work cells for efficiency and ergonomic considerations. They practiced standardized work and cross-trained. A flexible workforce that could shift to meet customer demand was created. Lean suggestion sheets were used to empower employees to offer creative improvement ideas. A Lean recognition program was established to showcase outstanding Lean efforts. The Lean workforce pulled together and put the finishing touches on the Lean organization. The dream began a reality.

Lean Organization Medtronic Xomed continues to renovate its Lean organization internally and externally. The results are impressive. Lean extends throughout the organization as Value Stream managers examine upstream processes that affect their value streams. Suppliers are becoming Lean partners. Their participation in Lean allows them to build their own Lean organizations while improving Medtronic Xomed's inventory control. Medtronic Xomed customers are interested in implementing Lean. When physicians visit and learn about Lean during facility tours, they ask how to implement Lean in their practices. Lean is transforming processes internally and externally. Medtronic Xomed's Lean organization is a towering skyscraper; it is an achievement to appreciate and emulate.

Lean Results Lean Implementation results for first 12 months:

  • Productivity Increased by 20 % in Manufacturing

  • Productivity Increased by 34 % in Distribution

  • Lead Time Reduced by 70%

  • Space Reduced by 33%

  • Inventory Turns Increased from 1.5 to 2.4

  • Customer Order Fill Rate Increased from an average of 85% to 95%

Implementing Lean requires a team effort. The company culture at Xomed is very advanced, and the people there have made remarkable progress considering the relatively short amount of time that they have been working on removing process waste. This is largely due to their ability to work as teams, and to get things done quickly. Lean Advisors Inc. wishes them well, and looks forward, and looks forward to continuing a close relationship. We would like to thank Rick Kundert from Xomed for writing this article. Rick is one of those people that working with on a day-to-day basis is an absolute pleasure.

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