Become a lean business machine

June 2, 2015

Value creation

A new Atlas Copco approach helps customers and its own operations become more productive.

Participants undergo training at the Atlas Copco House in Sweden.

Businesses are always looking for ways to increase efficiency. Sometimes, though, the people in a position to make a difference are so involved in running operations that they can’t see the bigger picture. According to Thomas Glasow, Senior Consultant in Production Transformation, the solution for many businesses is to think “Lean.” The Lean approach was originally developed for the automotive industry, but Glasow, who heads up the Lean service offering, says its principles of identifying and reducing waste make it ideal for improving efficiency within any business. “It applies to every process and every industry,” he says. “Companies that have started their Lean journey are more flexible and more responsive to their customers.” Japanese carmaker Toyota is credited with first introducing the concept. The system encourages businesses to take a step back from operations and ask important questions: How can flow be improved and inventory reduced? How can waste be reduced or even eliminated? How do the different parts of the business work together? Atlas Copco has long adhered to similar principles throughout its operations and is well positioned to instruct others in the system. “In the future this will be something everybody applies in their processes,” Glasow says.
The Atlas Copco Lean Package is made up of four elements
First, customers can attend the Lean Academy at Atlas Copco’s headquarters in Nacka, Sweden, and receive comprehensive hands-on training. Second, customers can use Lean Consultancy services, in which Atlas Copco staff members travel to the customer’s facility to provide intensive on-site advice in implementing Lean. Third is an offer of Lean Auditing and Certification for businesses that have started on the Lean journey and want their compliance levels assessed. Fourth, a Lean Network and Community offering allows businesses that have received Atlas Copco training in Lean to stay in touch and learn from one another. The training at the Lean Academy is designed to be memorable, says Peter Karlström, an Atlas Copco Training Professional. Sessions are held over three days in a series of rooms, including one with a working production line. Attendees are presented with practical problems that they must then solve together. “We have our own production facility,” Karlström says. “Lean is presented to participants, and then they go out and see it in real life and experience the difference.” The Lean Academy was launched in November 2012 and, after a series of pilot workshops, began full operation in January 2013. It will provide training to Atlas Copco employees and external companies on a monthly basis. Karlström says interest in the academy has been strong, with bookings stretching five months in advance. Feedback from those who already attended the course has been positive. “One of the participants said, ‘This is the best course we’ve ever done at Atlas Copco,’ and we’re very proud of that,” he says. “We see that this works. I can go home and tidy up my garage according to these principles. It’s very down-to-earth.” Glasow says he expects to see more “lightbulb” moments as the program goes forward, with people realizing how things could be done better at their operations.
Lean academy
Lean training courses are held monthly throughout the year. Each course runs for three days and has room for 12 participants. Participants have come from China, India, Sweden, Germany and Bulgaria. Each day’s course work is a blend of theory and practical work. Places are available to both internal and external participants. Written by Daniel Dasey

Participants undergo training at the Atlas Copco House in Sweden.

Efficiency Global Value creation Other Training