Siemens Magnet Technology is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of superconducting magnetic resonance imaging magnets for medical applications, such as MRI scanners.
The company was established in 1982 in Oxford, recently celebrating its 30th anniversary and employs around 450 people. Siemens itself started in the United Kingdom 169 years ago and now employs almost 13,000 people in the UK. Its revenues last year totalled £4.4 billion. As a leading global engineering company, Siemens provides innovative solutions to help tackle the world’s major challenges, across the key industrial sectors of infrastructure and cities, energy, industry and healthcare.
Siemens Magnet Technology has been shortlisted for the UK Best Factory Awards 2012, which will be taking place at the Park Lane Sheraton on 28th September.
Siemens has offices and 12 factories throughout the UK, with its UK headquarters in Frimley, Surrey and global headquarters in Munich, Germany.
Lean Workshop Opportunity
Siemens approached Fedden USP/MIT about running their successful Business Improvement Techniques (BITS) Level 2 programme at their Oxford site. They had already been working on Lean and BIT for some years, but felt that the underlying level of skill and knowledge in applying the learning had not reached its full potential. The company was keen to offer the training to their cell leaders and lead technicians in particular.
The programme delivered by Fedden-USP/MIT, and based on proven work-centred experiential learning tools and techniques, underpinned by self-financing improvement projects, was considered a perfect opportunity to continue to develop the site’s ability to compete globally in an ever more demanding market. In addition, the chance to add a nationally recognised NVQ and VRQ qualification was seen as highly desirable.
The programme commenced with five days off-the-job training and was delivered by sector specialists Colin Allaway and Grant Baker. Colin’s role with Fedden USP/MIT focuses on training and assessment and he has over 20 years experience using best practice within various manufacturing sectors such as marine, medical, aerospace, defence, horticulture, retail and food. Colin also has extensive supply chain and logistics experience and has led Lean in not-for-profit and social enterprise businesses.
Grant Baker is an experienced business development manager and business coach and has over 20 years experience within the precision engineering, food creative and design sectors, and more recently with the NHS and local authority improvement initiatives.
The five-day training covered Lean and BIT principles and theory, backed up with worked group exercises and mapped processes in the workplace. Following this phase, selected improvement projects were evaluated, presented and subsequently gained full management approval.
The balance of the programme offers on site support and mentoring as the projects are delivered and completed over the coming months, with additional underpinning knowledge applied – providing demonstrable evidence to complete the qualifications.
As a direct result of the programme, improvements totalling in excess of £35,000 per year have been possible and endorsed by the management team. The company is also keen to embark on a second wave of training following the amount of interest in the first course and pressure from staff; this training would be open to all shop floor staff.
The training for Siemens employees was particularly successful, as evidenced by some of the comments from the trainees:
“Really good course, gained a better understanding of Lean which will help my job role.”
“Excellent course – easy to follow and much learnt.”
“Very informative – gave a full understanding of Lean.”
“I learnt a lot of skills and tools which will help me massively in my job.”
Colin Allaway commented: “It was a real privilege to engage with the Siemens team, and it was self evident that they had already embraced the Lean enterprise culture, and made significant improvements in the operation when we arrived on site. It is no surprise that they feature heavily as a reference site for best practice.
We were, however, able to help embed the principles more thoroughly, and support the team during their increased learning and understanding phases, prior to implementation of a further step in advancing their Lean culture, and enhanced improvement activity. This is one of the strongest areas of the programme, and recognised and fully supported by Siemens.”
Frazer Mackay, Operations Manager for Siemens added: “As a continuously improving and competitive manufacturing business, we are constantly looking for opportunities to reduce our cost base and, as such, we have developed an excellent structured approach to maximise the gain made from our Lean activities. With the tools and structure in place already and Lean training at management level, the area that offered most opportunity was a greater involvement and understanding from the shop floor staff. We therefore offered the chance to learn about Lean and establish why it is so important to our business and, at the same time, gain a national qualification. Crucially, Fedden-USP/MIT have delivered training ‘on shift’ and so minimised any potential disruption to production and the feedback from those involved has been very positive. Other than the obvious cost saving benefit, the NVQ projects have also allowed us to embed people’s learning into our existing Lean structure and importantly we now have more people fluent in ‘Lean’ which will help us to achieve our manufacturing targets going forward.”