Impressions from the Baltic Lean Forum in 2018

2018 05 07

“Heads of companies who believe in the necessity of change are behind the successful implementation of the Lean system,” – this could be the definition of the underlying idea expressed through highlighting its different facets by more than 400 participants representing Lithuania and neighbouring countries at the largest LEAN Forum in the Baltic countries. The event dedicated to performance efficiency was attended by heads and owners of the most successful national and international companies, including Thermofisher Scientific Baltics, Lufthansa, Danspin, Mars Lietuva, Baltik vairas, Headex Group, Volfas Engelman, Kurana, Šilutės baldai, BIOK Laboratory, and many more. As one of the organizers – Rolandas Barysas, the editor-in-chief of the national business daily Verslo žinios – has noticed that the attendees of the Lean Forum are distinguished by their peculiar spirit of sharing, which still needs enhancement and nurturance in Lithuania.

Samuel Obara, the Executive Director of Honsha, who has shared his expertise with more than 350 world’s leading companies, particularly emphasized the role of the leader in the implementation of Lean culture in an organization. “If the head of a large and successful company is convinced that there is no further need for meticulous saving, Lean transformation in the company is most likely bound to fail,” claimed the speaker. Moreover, S. Obara stressed the importance of seemingly insignificant savings. In his opinion, every manager, even that of a multimillion organization, should strive for the culture of cherishing every second not wasted at the production line, every drop of water not used in vain, and every gram of material not thrown away.

The presentation of Dr Algimantas Markauskas, General Director of Thermofisher Scientific Baltics, was among those that stole the show at the conference. At the beginning of April the biotechnology company under his leadership was awarded the Shingo prize, often referred to as the Nobel Prize in manufacturing.

According to A. Markauskas, the efficiency culture that has been implemented in Thermofisher Scientific Baltics for a number of years has led the company to global success. All spheres of activity – operations, research, and administration – are equally valued within the company. The following principles have been put into effect: identification of a coherent strategy and its deployment, daily accountability meetings, Gemba walks and 1:1 conversations, 6 value streams, and the Pull system, as well as the continuing monitoring of KPIs. As A. Markauskas has put it, the outstanding results were the effect of the clear-cut identification of internal customers within the company as well as concentrated explicit communication which resulted in the engagement of all employees and – above all – participation of the top management in the application of Lean techniques.

Aušra Žemaitienė, Director General of Mars Lietuva, which was among the first companies in Lithuania to start implementing the Lean system, told that the company has a systematic approach towards employee training to apply Lean principles. In Mars Lietuva their efficiency is measured using dozens of quantitative and qualitative indicators, including earned revenues, saved costs, minutes spent in production, product quality, customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. “This should be a long-term cultural program rather than a result-oriented action plan,” pointed out A. Žemaitienė.

Žilvinas Dubosas, Director of Baltik vairas, shared the story of how his company faced a serious risk of bankruptcy a few years ago but worked its way up to become a leading bicycle manufacturer in Northern Europe. New appointments to the management team resulted in careful revision of processes, product range, and partnerships, instantly abandoning unprofitable activities. This was the point when the decision to start implementing Lean was taken. The bicycle assembly process is fully standardized; the company produces over 1,700 different bicycle models. Real-time digital management of production and sales was introduced and as of 2016 the turnover has increased from EUR 30 million to 61 million. Baltik vairas is this year’s winner of the Kaizen of the Year Award.

When summing up the results, the organizer and host of the event Vidas Petraitis, Head of Lean.lt, was pleased to see that the fifth annual Baltic Lean Forum had attracted around 400 participants ready to put the newly gained knowledge into practice. According to V. Petraitis, several conclusions can be drawn out of the presentations delivered at the conference. Firstly, the implementation of Lean requires determination and commitment of the head of the company, otherwise, there is no point in starting it. Once the team of like-minded colleagues is formed, the introduction of changes may be initiated. Equally important is the knowledge of practices and techniques intended to put into effect in the company, as no significant results can be achieved without the necessary competences. Finally, all changes should be coupled with business indicators and objectives – at the end of the day the organization has to earn more and live to the expectations of its customers and shareholders.

Attendees of this year’s Baltic Lean Forum engaged into active discussions on how Lean practices apply not only to manufacturing, but also to service and the public sector. Andrzej Kinastowski, Operations Delivery Strategist at Lufthansa Global Business Services, Darius Kriukas, Organisation Development Director at Girteka Logistics, Kurt H. Jensen, Technical Director at Danspin, Ana Gleb-Ananikova, Quality Manager at BIOK Laboratory, Marius Horbačauskas, General Director of Volfas Engelman, Jurgis Polujanskas, General Director of Kurana, Lilija Tolbatova, Director of Headex Group, Norian Accounting General Director Lina Maroščikienė and Lean Project Manager Alina Bazurina, Mindaugas Sinkevičius, Director of the State Social Insurance Fund Board, Darius Mardosas, Manager of Mental Health Centre Glostrup, University of Copenhagen, Aušra Juodgudytė, Operational Excellence Manager at Energy Distribution Operator, as well as Darius Lackus and Žygimantas Lackus, Directors of VLi Timber, and the former professional soldier Kęstutis Kilinskas exchanged their know-how.

For more impressions from the Baltic Lean Forum please watch the speakers’ video interviews and visit Lean.lt profiles in Linkedin and Facebook.