Lean Best Practices in Lithuanian companies Awarded for the Third Time

2017 06 20

Lean.lt, company with many years of experience in effective business process management in Lithuania and Baltic countries, has awarded Lithuanian companies that have reached the most impressive results in the improvement of processes over the recent year. The awards were held for the third time, with a larger number of participants as well as nominations this year. The winners were chosen in six categories. This year’s winners were awarded at the Baltic Lean Forum conference by Honsha consultant Bob Plummer. He has formerly been a president of NUMMI automobile manufacturing company for 15 years. The Kaizen of the Year award went to a company that surprised everyone with its courage to improve even its existing equipment and managed to save thousands Euro yearly. The winner of the Benefit of the Year award created a corporate culture where 84% of Lean benefits come from Kaizen ideas created and implemented by company employees. 

The traditional Lean.lt award ceremony, which formerly started off with one Kaizen of the Year nomination, had five more categories this year: Involvement of the Year, Discipline of the Year, Project of the Year, Benefit of the Year, and a new category, which was not present last year, Start of the Year. For the first time, the Lean.lt awards were held at the Baltic Lean Forum and it is expected to become an integral part of this annual event in the future. According to Lean.lt practitioner Vidas Petraitis, this competition intends to encourage sharing of good practices and to thank companies for their courage to change, creative problem solving, and active involvement of employees in the improvement processes. Their examples should be praised for everyone to hear.

The award for the best idea this year was handed out by Bob Plummer to Šilutės Baldai UAB, a company belonging to SBA Baldai Group. When they started the production of new products, their equipment could no longer cope with the task without an additional employee. The authors of the winning idea of the year looked at this problem out of the box view perspective and improved the existing equipment which allowed for additional free man-hours. This employee can use his working time more efficiently, and the company saves tens of thousands of Euro yearly. The true potential to the organization’s development lies with employees working with daily tasks. Involved employees can best see issues and offer various improvements. To develop such involvement is not an easy task for an organization. BIOK Laboratorija UAB, which has set a goal to involve each employee in the development of its activities, has received the Involvement of the Year award. 

With 86% employee involvement in 2015, they reached 100% employee involvement in the Kaizen process in 2016. In the course of the year, they implemented 4.3 ideas per employee. BIOK Laboratorija has enough persistence to maintain maximum employee involvement, and the results achieved in recent years motivate employees to surpass themselves with a yet greater number of implemented ideas next year.

Experts claim that a disciplined fulfilment of tasks during the period of implementation of the Lean system helps achieve both short-term and long-term goals. Therefore it is particularly important not to lose motivation and determination. Performance improvement is a continuous process. An organization will never reach a point when all the employees can quit working and no more of their effort is required. Vidas Petraitis said he was pleased to see that most Lithuanian companies demonstrate excellent discipline and realize that a regular revision of work processes helps spot problems or even prevent them from happening. The best result in this area in 2016 was achieved by Plungės kooperatinė prekyba UAB company of Vičiūnai Group that won the Discipline of the Year award. The performance of tasks at this company reached 94%.

The Project of the Year award was handed out to Kurana UAB team who took decisive steps to improve their sales results. They identified causes of the problem and implemented action plan, which allowed them to achieve their main goal to expand their product availability to a significantly wider circle of customers. In addition, they introduced new products to the market and created an advertising campaign. The result of this consistent work is estimated at 190 thousand Euro. Visagino linija UAB may also boast about its team’s efforts and discipline. When implementing Lean in 2016, as much as 84% of value was brought by Kaizen and other 16% by other initiatives: PDCA, SMED and SW. Visagino linija UAB won the Benefit of the Year award for their impressive overall result. Organizations should encourage employees to suggest and implement ideas, no matter how small they may be. The experience of Visagino linija shows that the focus on a proper organizational culture and systematic work with the Kaizen tool can exceed expectations.

This year’s awards introduced a Start of the Year category. It is intended for the companies that are new to systematic implementation of Lean, and therefore cannot compete with other award winners who have been improving their processes for many years. Taking into account that the launch of the Lean system is not always easy for a company, Headex UAB won this category for its ability to cope with a significant company growth and maintain its focus on the improvement of processes at the same time. According to Vidas Petraitis, Lean practitioner at Lean.lt, it is important to engage companies that are taking their first Lean steps because this is a significant change in the organization’s working culture and employees’ attitude towards their role in the continuous improvement process.

Experts have evaluated the engagement of dozens of organizations, their achieved benefits, and Lean projects done during the year, as well as their suggested Kaizen ideas. According to Vidas Petraitis, Lean practitioner at Lean.lt, which is the largest Lithuanian company that implements Lean solutions, companies operate in different fields and therefore, for the sake of objectivity, the assessment is carried out following a predetermined scoring system: Lean.lt experts give points for individual achievements identified in each category, and the total score determines the winner of each category. Differences between the first prize winners and second as well as third place winners were minor. According to the practitioner of Lean, it only proves that regardless of the organization’s field of activity, Lean system helps gradually achieve better results if a company exercises discipline and employees are involved in the Kaizen process.