With a dAlistair-Conn-photoegree and doctorate in Chemistry from Oxford University, Alistair Conn could have found himself working in any part of the world – but he chose Huddersfield for love.

In 1990 he joined ICI in Huddersfield – which later became global agrochemical company Syngenta – and met and married a local girl who made it clear that she never wanted to leave Huddersfield.

“Every time the company suggested an opportunity in another part of the world I said no, I love my wife too much.  They were very good about it,” he said.

“As a result, I suppose you could say that I had an unorthodox career path.  After six months in the lab I got the first opening as Production Manager in a herbicides plant.  I learnt a lot very quickly, mainly from my mistakes, but I knew immediately that I definitely wanted to be on the front line.”

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The importance of a continuous focus on quality and excellence is as important now as it ever has been, whether you’re in the UK, or anywhere else, says Mike Price, Manufacturing Institute MD.

Mike Price, managing director of the Manufacturing Institute has recently returned from speaking at conferences in Ireland and Switzerland where the challenges and opportunities have similar themes.

More than 100 Quality professionals gathered to discuss Operational Excellence in the workplace in on Tuesday, 21st October 2014 at the Radisson Blue Hotel & Spa, in Co Galway for the third annual Quality in Ireland conference, organised by NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland) in association with Quality Ireland and IT Sligo.

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Their plant, in Deer Park, Melbourne, has just become the first in Australasia to be awarded the prestigious Shingo Bronze Medallion – which is presented annually to an organisation that demonstrates strong use of tools and techniques for business improvement.

They are doubly delighted that they are the first printing plant in the world to achieve this very special recognition.

And the Manufacturing Institute has played a part in their success.

The Manufacturing Institute, the UK’s first educational partner for the Shingo Prize, helped Vistaprint with training and workshops and a visit to their plant as they worked towards Shingo recognition.

“We really chuffed,” says Jim Glover, Vistaprint’s global lean manager.

“I’m not sure my Australian colleagues would understand the term, but yes you could say we are very chuffed.”

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Mapping the Extended Value Stream

  • Achieving a “Lean Supply Chain”… what does this mean in practice? How can we achieve it?
  • What are the challenges and benefits of mapping and improving the value stream beyond a single facility to the whole supply chain?

Business Challenges?

The central challenge is often to reduce working capital and/or overall costs, whilst maintaining service levels. How can this be achieved, against a back drop of…

  • Complex manufacturing processes?
  • Long lead-times and inventory?
  • Multi-site manufacturing /distribution centres?
  • Increasing levels of variety and responsiveness required by customers?

Extended Value Stream Mapping

Our experience from Value Stream Mapping within the four walls of a factory has taught us that there are significant benefits from a cross-functional team learning together to see the end to end, “warts and all” current state.

Often, some individuals have a wide perspective, but it is rare that all stakeholders share a common view of the waste, and even less so a shared commitment to take action to realise a future state plan. This tends to become exaggerated when people are located separately by geography or function.

For all these reasons, our approach is to assemble a cross-functional team from all the sites. If possible we visit all the sites along the value stream during the mapping and improvement process. If this is not practical we have used photographs and video to “bring the value stream to life”.

Value Stream Map PS

A robust process for mapping the extended value stream involves a number of steps, including:

  • Materials and Information Flow Maps
  • Lead-time analysis
  • Value Adding vs. Non Value Adding
  • Inventory Analysis – understanding what and why
  • Financial analysis – the total cost of fulfilment
  • Lean supply chain principles – assessing ourselves against the best
  • Customer demand analysis
  • Supplier Capability

Current State mapping leads to envisaging an “ideal” future state. From the “ideal”, it is essential to develop a “next” future state plan, achievable within 6-18 months.


Expect to:

  • Develop a robust view of what is value adding in the value stream, compared with non-value-adding.
  • Develop end-to-end thinking across the value stream, based on overall measures.
  • Understand why current inventories exist and are required.
  • Uncover inconsistencies in policies or their application.
  • Develop understanding of what needs to be done differently to improve.
  • Define the “ideal” and “next future state”, with a commitment to action.

We have learned through this process that firstly it is critical for the team to have a clear mission. What is being asked of them? What decisions are they empowered to make? How will they proceed with these? To what extent are you ready to directly involve customers or suppliers?

Secondly, an essential input to the process is data, lots of data. Experience teaches us that this can be overwhelming, but the key is to seek first to understand the context, in order to define the key data. The workshop activity can then focus on the analysis and implications of the data (the “so what” rather than the “what?”).

Thirdly, follow a robust process. Invest sufficient time for the team to follow this process, to develop understanding and a shared commitment. It is easy to reduce numbers and targets; it is much more challenging to understand why in order to define what could be done differently to achieve a different result.

Finally, it is essential to define a near term “next” future state – even if this is only 6 months away – and the actions you will take. A mountaineer is aiming for the summit, but has always to climb the next rock face first.

Challenges and Opportunities

  • How well can your supply chain respond to the true customer demand?
  • To what extent is there end to end understanding of “waste”?
  • Have you defined an “ideal” future state for how you will design and manage the value stream?
  • What progress are you making in an action plan toward your “next” future state?
  • Have you hit an obstacle, or has progress become blocked?


92811jlr_jlr-aerial-2The Manufacturing Institute is the first international partner of the Shingo Institute, whose Shingo Prize is world-renowned as the global standard for enterprise excellence. The Enterprise Excellence Framework has been developed by The Manufacturing Institute, based on the Shingo principles, and is a proven method to guide organisations through the complex process of achieving and sustaining world-class performance.  It drives excellence into every corner of the business and, crucially, establishes a culture that ensures every individual is committed to strategic objectives, inspiring and motivating them to participate in the organisation’s transformation and subsequent long-term success.

The Enterprise Excellence Framework brings the Shingo model to life, turning the ‘why’ into ‘how’, which has been the missing piece of the jigsaw for many companies.

The Enterprise Excellence Framework is transforming the way in which engines are manufactured, so that we achieve our vision to become the new global benchmark for excellence.

Nigel Blenkinsop, Director, JLR Powertrain Operations

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