The Lean Utilities Programme, run by the Lean Water & Energy Skillnet in association with the University of Limerick, was launched in July 2015. One of the participating companies is Vistakon, Johnson & Johnson’s contact lens (ACUVUE®) manufacturing site based in Limerick, who are leveraging the programme to deliver on their corporate sustainability goals in 2015-2016.

Each participant on the course is set the challenge of identifying and implementing a project which represents at least €50k in cost avoidance or cost savings for the site. All training and programme supports are focussed on assisting the participant to successfully deliver this project. Site Management champions the programme, funds the training and provides participants with ongoing support to help them overcome organisational barriers in delivering the project. In return the participant must carry out a robust verification of the savings made.

“The Lean Water & Energy Skillnet has offered high quality training which has enabled our staff to identify a potential 1.2 million worth of savings for Vistakon, which has played a key role in the company achieving our cost saving and corporate sustainability goals.” – Frank Curran, Facilities Manager, Vistakon

A Green Belt award is subject to completing this verification and presenting the results to the sites senior management.

While individual participants are welcome to register, the best results are achieved when a cohort from a single site or group of sites in the same organisation undertake the programme. The participants each learn from and support one another, and the impact of programme is more significant for the organisation. The lean methodologies taught in the programme then become embedded in the organisation and not just the individuals.

The business case for the programme is compelling. A site that supports 10 participants can expect to achieve 50*10 or €500000 savings, which contribute significantly to corporate targets overall. Indeed according to the latest review, the programme projects selected by each Vistakon participant represent potential average savings of €150k each, which translates to a total saving in excess of €1.2m, after completion of the course.

“While many of the participating sites are already familiar with Lean best practices, what we have found in practice is that the programme structure and external programme coordination, brings renewed focus, skills development and specific timelines to implementation of the projects which can otherwise be missing.” Marcela Gelber – Lean Water & Energy Skillnet

The type of projects undertaken by the Vistakon group range from optimisation programmes for purified water, air handling units and preventative maintenance to improving cooling tower controls and building maintenance alarms.

The Lean Utilities Programme is now gearing up for its second run, and is actively recruiting the second cohort of participants. Interested organisations are encouraged to contact the Lean Water and Energy Skillnet as soon as possible. The course can be delivered onsite subject to number of participants. The Programme Leader is Dr. Sean Moore of the University of Limerick, whose credentials include a PhD in analytical statistics and an MSc in Manufacturing with a thesis on Lean Manufacturing in Aerospace Environments, as well as postgraduate diplomas in Quality (Lean and Six Sigma) and Manufacturing. Sean is a certified Black Belt and has completed two Black Belt Training programs through GE & Six Sigma Associates and work in industry for twenty years before joining UL last year to lead this activity.