Lean improvements Tools To Work

March 19, 2013 3572 Views

Just like commercial companies, Tools To Work, an NGO workshop located in Teteringen, The Netherlands,  operates in an ever-changing market environment. Tools To Work contributes refurbished quality goods to many projects in developing countries. Faced with the challenge of reduced local-government subsidies and the need to monitor the progress of its various projects more closely, the organization contacted Groenewout for help in identifying possibilities for improvement in the Tools To Work workshop. In support of Tools To Work’s valuable charitable activities, both within The Netherlands and in Africa, Groenewout completed the project for free.

Tools to Work
Tools To Work is different from a ‘normal’ workshop environment, not least because of the large number of part-time workers. Due to reduced government support, full-time workshop supervisors can no longer be replaced when they leave. This makes it particularly challenging to plan and communicate details of tasks, priorities and progress during projects. Inventory control is also difficult at Tools To Work because of the highly unpredictable inbound flows. Since charitable donations from companies and individuals cannot be forecast, a buffer stock is needed. A key issue for Tools To Work was how to manage the stock levels effectively, given the limited space available.

Lean improvements
In view of the large number of part-time workers, Groenewout has advised that the responsibility to inform and communicate should be uncoupled from a single person or several people. Therefore, the consultancy firm has suggested a number of Lean concepts for implementation, including a Kanban ‘two bin’ system, a Heijunka box and 5S procedures. In addition, Groenewout has recommended a stricter inventory policy that considers both demand patterns and the uncertainty of inbound flows. The resulting inventory reduction should enable the implementation of a small pick street for the assembly of the tool boxes.

Implementation
The Tools To Work supervisors are currently working out the details of the suggested improvements. Groenewout is now providing support in a mentoring role only and allowing the supervisors to take responsibility for implementation, since this is expected to increase internal acceptation of the improvement concepts.

Once implementation of the suggested improvements is complete, Tools To Work should be well equipped to cope in the uncertain and ever-changing environment in which it operates.

Click here for the interview with Tools to Work.

For more information about Tools To Work, see www.toolstowork.nl or contact Luitzen Wobma (luitzen.wobma@toolstowork.nl)
For more information about the project at Tools To Work, contact Mari van Kuijk or +31 6 5060 5351.

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