Lean University

Have you ever wondered why there are so many “lean champions” internally working with their organization to implement lean, yet they're still struggling with implementing lean into their organizations?

You're not alone!

Countless companies are deceived into believing the lean journey is something that employees can learn through non-interactive powerpoint lectures at some off campus site, and then be sent back to their workplace with enough knowledge and experience to start deploying lean throughout their organization.

This is not the case…

Lean takes time, and even though the tools are universal, every company is unique. Therefore, lean must be customized to their organizational needs. For this reason, W3 has developed an in- house Lean University.

Key Points From Our Lean University

  • W3 instructors are some of the best in the industry. Having years of hands on experience with designing, developing and executing systems in support of the lean transformation process.
  • Shorter training delivery windows that support better alertness and subject matter retention
  • On-site delivery avoiding travel costs and wasted time traveling
  • Customized materials that address exactly how tools and systems can be applied at the clients processes
  • Learn-&-Do teaching format. Students will learn a specific tool in the classroom, determine an area to apply the tool and have an immediate impact on improving the process. Retention and skill development are greatly enhanced in this style of learning. This leads to greater confidence in the student independently using the tools again once certified. Total curriculum equates to over 300 hours of learning, doing, and applying the tools
  • Lean as a system. Because students will be using many lean tools to support targeted projects, they will have a better understanding of how Lean functions as an integrated system
  • Small group size consisting of your own internal people. This allows for personalized attention and support of specific projects, and shop floor application of the lean tools
  • Train-the-trainer. Our objective throughout delivery of the course will be to transfer knowledge and skill to designated trainers so that they can independently deliver the program without an on-going need of outside consulting support
  • Real-time business benefits. Businesses that utilize our Lean University will experience measurable results within their own company that far exceed the cost associated with our Lean University, thus realizing a positive ROI

Lean University Training

Fundamentals of Lean

This course is the first step to learning the principles of Lean manufacturing. We will take the participants through a thorough discussion of lean which will cover the following lean topics:

  • The history of lean
  • The vision of lean
  • Why companies implement lean tools
  • How to align the core values of the company in order to support a lean environment
  • The importance of understanding lead time
  • Ways of identifying and eliminating waste
  • Brief introduction of equipment reliability
  • Level production
  • In-Station process control
  • Just-in-time
  • How to enhance your culture to a mindset of continuous improvement thinking
  • Metrics and tools of lean

Standard Work

Implementing standard work in an organization should be second nature for all companies on the lean journey. The truth is, we find that a majority of our clients don't take advantage of this practice. Standard work is very important because it sets the foundation for continuous improvement efforts throughout the organization. This foundation then creates a current state for which can be continuously improved upon. Thus, standardized work is a process that never ceases. Companies that implement standardized work can expect:

  • Disciplined and predictable culture
  • Improved Training
  • Safety Improvements
  • Overproduction prevention
  • Improved quality
  • Reduction in cost through continuous improvement
  • Stable platform for change
  • Consistency between different shift operators


Kanban/Pull Systemsare based on the concept of building products to actual demand and not to a schedule or forecast. Kanbans are visual signals or records that authorize the production or withdrawal of a product, and can also be used to trigger Team Members to perform tasks in addition to their daily routine. There are many benefits to Kanbans, some of which include:

  • Flexability
  • Focus on continuous delivery
  • Waste Reduction
  • Greater productivity
  • IImproved efficiency


Training within industry, TWI, is a dynamic program that instructs supervisors and leaders within an organization based on the five (5) needs of a supervisor:

  1. Knowledge of the work
  2. Knowledge of responsibility
  3. Skill in instructing
  4. Skill in improving methods
  5. Skill in leading

The first two needs are fulfilled by the company, but many organizations fall short in supplying their leaders with training in the other three areas mentioned above. It is imperative that companies supply their leaders with this type of training, because lean implementation and continuous improvement is nearly impossible without guidance from a competent leader that has the five (5) qualities above. When leaders go through TWI training, organizations can expect:

  • Fewer accidents
  • Less scrap rework
  • Shorter learning curve
  • Faster on-boarding of new or transferred workers
  • Decreased turnover
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Less transfers
  • Increased worker interest and enthusiasm
  • Improved employee/supervisor relationships
  • Develops supervisors for added responsibility
  • Reduces downtime
  • Provides a method for upgrading employees
  • Standardizes instruction methods
  • Helps to establish job classifications
  • Increases productivity
  • Decreases tool breakage
  • Makes supervisor an instructor instead of a trouble-shooter
  • Provides a method to screen employees’ skill levels
  • Improves housekeeping

Implementing an effective 5S program is about total plant organization and reducing waste throughout while increasing worker efficiency. Organizational clutter is a major cause of company wide inefficiencies and safety issues. It is extremely important for work areas to be 5S’ed so that continuous improvement efforts go smoothly. Companies that utilize 5S organize the work area according to these five aspects:

  • Sort (eliminate unneeded items)
  • Set in order (organize everything after eliminating unneeded items)
  • Shine (clean and inspect work area)
  • Standardize (write standards for keeping area clutter free and organized)
  • Sustain (maintain all the above throughout the organization)


Kaizen is a lean tool that helps companies eliminate non-value activities (Muda) with quick bottom line results. The traditional way of thinking is Cost + Profit = Selling Price; the Lean way of thinking is; Price – Cost = Profit. Therefore, the lean way to increase profit is to reduce cost, and the lean way to reduce cost is to eliminate waste. Typically, Kaizen events are driven by internal continuous improvement teams that are appointed by senior management with the goal of improving one process at a time. A classic 3 to 5 day Kaizen event consists of:

  • Lean overview objectives
  • Structure of Kaizen event
  • Tools of Lean
  • Identifying current state
  • Identifying Waste
  • Brainstorming ideas for improvement
  • Implementing solutions
  • Creating a follow-up action list
  • Calculating ROI
  • Presenting results

SMED/Quick Change Over

Equipment changeovers can become a real burden if not done in an efficient manner. SMED (single minute exchange of die) is a system designed to take the equipment changeover process and dramatically reduce the time it takes to complete changeovers. This type of system, when implemented, has many benefits including but not limited to: less equipment downtime, smaller lot sizes, flexible scheduling, decreased inventory levels, improved consistency and quality, and standardized changeovers. SMED is an ideal tool for those companies that wish to reduce the changeover time and set-up time while increasing the flexibility of production that leads to enhanced process flow.

TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) and OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)

Perfect production is something that all companies strive towards, but few take advantage of the holistic approach TPM (total productive maintenance) offers. TPM is a proactive approach to maintenance that allows companies to keep their equipment uptime near 90% . This near perfect production prevents:

  • Equipment downtime
  • Set-up and adjustment production losses
  • Equipment downtime losses
  • Equipment speed decreases
  • Quality defects
  • Safety issues
  • Poor labor productivity
  • Poor worker morale

With a quality TPM system in place companies maximize the operational efficiency of their equipment and maintain their desired level of production through shared responsibility for equipment. This shared responsibility creates a sense of unity amongst the floor workers and a much more proactive culture. Without a proper TPM system in place companies cannot maintain a level of quality and production that can keep up with the competitive pressures around them.

OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) is a tool that is paired with TPM programs that creates a baseline and benchmark for production time. Though not attainable, all companies strive for an OEE score of 100% (perfect production, no defects, equipment uptime at 100%, and Takt time at the highest level possible); most world class facilities have an OEE score 85%. This numerical score allows for companies to benchmark others in their industry and create a baseline, within their own company, for waste elimination efforts. OEE allows companies to measure and track their progress over time from process to process which guides continuous improvement efforts.

Managing Change

The transition from a non-lean culture to a culture of lean enthusiasts is a process that takes strong lean leaders to direct and assist their people in the transition. Preparing leaders to lead successful lean implementation is more crucial than the actual lean tools that get implemented. If organizations don't spend time developing their leaders to lead the change, their lean transition and efforts are going to fall to pieces and fail. Proper change management leads to:

  • Increased employee buy-in
  • Smoother culture transition
  • Decreased implementation time
  • Higher success rate
  • Higher levels of employee engagement

This foundational piece to the lean journey must be evaluated before lean deployment can be successful.

Visual Factory

Efficient and effective information flow is imperative in each process throughout the organization. As value chain activities become more complex, this need for effective exchange of information becomes more and more important. Visual factories A.K.A visual management, is a set of tools customized to ones organization that allows for sound communication.

Visual control methods applied to different processes should make the steps of those processes more visible as well as easier to manage. There are many different visual management tools that can be used, but its vital to determine two things before implementing any type of visual management into your organization. First, senior leaders must determine what information needs to be communicated and to whom. Secondly, visual factories that are implemented must have a deployment plan. When visual management is utilized the following benefits should follow:

  • Problems, abnormalities, and deviations should be visible to everyone
  • Management of the shop floor becomes much more efficient
  • Corrective actions become clear and visible to everyone
  • Helps all employees understand what’s going on in the business
  • Real-time visual systems that provide real-time information
  • Clarity for senior managers and middle managers
  • Improves ability to recognize problems in real-time
  • Improves likihood of achieving production targets

Mistake Proofing

Mistake proofing (A.K.A Poka-Yoke) assists the value chain by adding controls into each process to prevent defects from occurring, reduce the severity of those defects, or, best case scenario, completely eliminate all defects. Mistake proofing is a vital part of lean because it can eliminate the repercussions, usually intangible, of sending defective products to customers. This, in the long run, can secure a sustainable reputation within your industry and prevent costly rework.

  • Reduced scrap and rework
  • Improved uptime, thruput, and OEE
  • Fewer line stoppages

Project Management

Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. Project management is yet another important piece to a successful lean journey. Proper project management results in:

  • The project staying under control
  • Everyone involved sharing a common understanding of the process
  • Reduced number of tasks that could be overlooked during the project
  • Elimination of duplicated efforts
  • A better understanding of lean manufacturing and the project management process
  • The necessary tools to lead the lean implementation process successfully
  • Projects being completed on-time and in budget

Presentation and Facilitation Skills

Part of every organizations lean journey is leadership development. Developing leaders to learn, do, apply, and teach should be the ultimate goal of the organization. This type of leadership development leads to competitive advantages that are difficult to emulate. Through our lean university, we take the students through intensive training where they will be able to learn the skills that are vital to developing other people in the organization. Two of the skills our participants will become proficient in is presenting and facilitating. Individuals that go through our presentation and facilitation skill training will become proficient in the following:

  • Engaging ones audience
  • Reading and reacting to body language
  • Time management
  • Handling disruptive behavior in a constructive way
  • Tapping into their own best speaking attributes
  • Preparation prior to training
  • Delivering presentations to both large and small audiences
  • Engaging the audience in a productive and effective manner

Problem Solving

When companies here the words “problem solving” most think “this is something we do every day of the week.” Then they ask the question “why do we need any help with problem solving since we’re already solving and dealing with problems on a daily basis?” This is a very common thought process for almost everyone we assist with problem solving. Solving problems can be very costly to organizations when they're not taught how to properly solve problems. There is a comprehensive structure for determining the root cause of problems, and its important for organizations to utilize this structure. When a standardized problem solving structure is in place, taking corrective actions that eliminate future occurrences becomes second nature. Beyond this, proper problem solving becomes a structural framework for lean thinking which then translates into one of the most specialized skills in any workplace. Benefits of problem solving include:

  • Systematic routine for scientifically solving any problem
  • Structured thought process based on facts and data
  • Clear documentation of steps to solve the problem
  • Validation to the rout causes to the problem
  • Elimination of root causes resulting in permanently improved performance

Day In The Life of a Leader

Leaders are not born leaders, they are developed and mentored by other leaders. Our Day in the Life of a Leader training creates an atmosphere that is perfect for tailoring current leadership as well as developing potential leadership. During this on site training, participants will be able to experience the day-to-day tasks that real frontline leaders (team leaders and group leaders) go through on a daily basis. We will walk our students through all the interactions that take place between the leaders during their shift as well as the interactions that take place when shifts are being changed. Students will be able to see how other leaders use lean tools as well as how they measure their lean performance. Furthermore, our participants will be able to practice what is preached in their own organizations with our coaches on standby to assist them when need be. Benefits of “Day in the Life of a Leader Include:

  • Better understanding of how to see and interact with the gemba (plant floor)
  • Promotes interaction between leaders
  • Improves Communication at the shop floor level
  • Teached leaders how to interact with the lean tools
  • Engages leaders to focus on performance measures (safety, quality, cost, productivity, and morale
  • Provides a daily routine for leaders to follow