Case Studies

The client & situation

A medical device company headquartered in the United States had a Japanese customer who was dissatisfied with the finished product quality as evidenced by poor ‘on-arrival’ inspection data. The products destined for Japan were assembled on the same line that assembled products for other markets, and the facility was struggling to maintain consistent supply.


Poor inspection data from Japan and inconsistent fulfillment metrics on all products produced in the facility.

Continuous improvement system status

The facility was at a median stage of a lean roll-out, visual controls were in place in the offices and hallways but not yet completed on the assembly gemba. Daily huddles were in place with a minimum of management controls. Most staff were trained in Lean yet the gemba employees were oblivious to the basic lean concepts. Superficial A3’s were in evidence.

Leanership® competitive improvement approach

  • Engaged cross-functional leadership in mapping of entire value stream, with additional focus on management control systems & established close relationship with Business Management team.
  • Conducted extensive pre-kaizen work – gathering data, interviewing leaders, attending meetings.
  • Planned and executed a series of static kaizen events on the two main assembly lines.
  • Ensured manufacturing engineering (design), quality engineering (validation) and change control participation as well as gemba employees.
  • Removed gemba inventory storage capacity.
  • Installed improved human contamination controls on the entire gemba. (Goggles, gloves over cuff, restricted the wearing of denims were actions defined by the team)
  • Upgraded the daily huddle with real time gemba metrics and action plans. All leaders rotated through the role of leading the daily huddle.
  • Installed visual factory on the gemba.
  • Visited the Japanese customer, producing pictorial evidence of the steps taken to improve their experienced quality issues.
  • Engaged the entire senior leadership team in the definition of the program and execution throughout.

Root cause/s

Lack of customer focus, and lack of inventory controls – exacerbated by absorption costing philosophy (hours v. output)


“… is truly a passionate and charismatic leader who knows all the world class manufacturing improvement techniques inside-out. … With William’s guidance, during one Kaizen we were able to reduce our labor on our final assembly by 13% … able to increase our [throughput] by 25%. He makes the lecture so fun and exciting that it grabs your attention from beginning to end. William has taught [me] more than any experience in my 5 years in the manufacturing industry.”  A.K. Senior Supervisor at the site

Customer Fulfillment index touched 100% fourteen months after commencement of program on two key SKUs, while expenditures dipped within budget for the first time in years.