The issue

  • A complex multi-stage casting, machining and coating operation manufacturing precision components for the aerospace industry
  • Underperforming organisation and low levels of ownership for improvement
  • Extremely low velocity through the process, with poor yields and excessive scrap
  • High inventories of work in progress and finished goods
  • Production measures encouraging over-production
  • Silo mentality in operations exacerbating the WIP situation
  • Disaffected workforce with little interest in driving continuous improvement and no effective performance management in place


  • Analyse the current situation to articulate the operational improvement potential (yield uplift and inventory reduction)
  • Create the business case for change (P&L and cash impact)
  • Design a pilot to create an integrated supply chain for the largest volume product including suppliers and JV partners
  • Detail design of a pull model and elimination of WIP stages along the entire supply chain
  • Re-design of the layout and organisation to separate ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ operations to reduce rework
  • Launch of a continuous improvement approach within the shop floor to tackle scrap, rework and productivity issues
  • Design and introduction of a cascaded performance management framework

The results

  • 40% reduction in inventory identified through WIP elimination
  • The feasibility of a 50% reduction in production lead time confirmed
  • 10 percentage-point improvement in yield performance from closer process control
  • Plan to deliver £5m savings in-year agreed
  • Changes to ways of working implemented in pilot cells with Lean work-flow approach trialled
  • Programme of Lean training and continuous improvement projects implemented
  • New KPIs are being used to drive the performance of the value chain in place of traditional cost absorption metrics

An award-winning team


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