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Tuesday, 17 October 2017 05:22

AFT – Winning with customers via the Lean Stream

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AFT's rotor and cylinder plant in Varkaus, Finland is meeting customer needs like never before since the implementation of the Lean Stream project in 2013. Over the past four years, productivity and profitability have improved, work in progress and throughput times have been cut in half, and reliability of supply has increased to an all time high above 97%.

aft logoAccording to Antti Kettunen, Plant Manager and Team Leader: "With Lean Stream, almost no equipment changes were made to reach a record level of efficiency. The investment was in ideas and embracing all workers as managers."

So what changed? Kari Ikäheimonen, HR Manager at AFT Varkaus explains: "We switched from a resource-based to a production model around customer orders, understanding and modifying the value stream from beginning to end. The magic began to happen when everyone at the factory could see the customer beside him or her at all times."

AFT’s Lean Stream won the 2014 Lean Act of the Year Award from the Lean Association of Finland in recognition for being a model in adapting traditional industrial processes to value streams centered on customers. This prize is designed to improve the competitiveness of the private and public sector in Finland.

The objective of Lean Stream is to always ensure an uninterrupted and faster flow of products throughout the process. Customer demands and manufacturing issues are discussed twice daily in 5-10 minute meetings that take place on the shop floor with foreman and employees. Continuous improvement is key and revolves around trust between personnel and management.

Kettunen adds: "AFT’s strengths include the ability to radically challenge traditional thinking, employees committed to continual change and ongoing development of operational processes, staff skills, and management systems.”

AFT is a global supplier specializing in stock preparation, screening, refining and paper machine approach flow. With over 110 years of experience in manufacturing and supplying tailored solutions, AFT helps to improve performance with trademarked advancements: Finebar - ultra low intensity refining, Powerwave - energy efficient screening, MaxiPulper - advanced pulping technologies, POM Systems and more.

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