Plant & Works Engineering
Best Factory Award win
Published:  07 January, 2016

Oxfordshire-based Siemens Magnet Technology recently won the overall Factory of the Year 2015 prize at the Best Factory Awards in London. The company also scooped the People & Skills Development Award as well as Best Engineering Plant Award. Operations Manager, Frazer Mackay firmly believes that Lean working gave the company the edge over its competitors on the night.

To win the Factory of the Year award, the company had to demonstrate improved performance across the board; reducing lead times, improving productivity and delivering outstanding product innovation.

Siemens designed and manufactured the ultra-light magnet at the heart of a revolutionary MRI scanner and this was all made possible by a major redevelopment of the plant’s entire manufacturing area.

To help with this, Mackay called upon the services of Gosport-based Lean business specialists, Fedden USP who, in partnership with MIT Skills, has been undertaking the LEAN Business Improvement Techniques (BITS) NVQ Level 2 and 3 programmes at the factory over the last four years. Over 200 (>95%) of the employees on the shop floor volunteered to be trained in NVQ Level 2, Level 3 or a one day lean appreciation course. This learning is backed up by the company’s structured approach called Lean Improvement Projects, which ensures that everyone’s training is applied on a routine basis.

Fedden has managed to change the way of thinking at Siemens and now everyone contributes ideas for improvements, as Mackay explains: “Continuous improvement is embedded in everyone’s day job, it is considered to be business-as-usual, not something special and everyone is well aware that if we stand still, we will fall behind”.

The results of Lean working in 2014 speak for themselves: 268 ideas from employees were implemented, yielding more than £1.3m in operational savings and more than 11,900 production hours saved.

Mackay added: “Winning the awards is a fantastic achievement for Siemens Magnet Technology and earlier in the year, we also achieved ‘World Class’ status from a Global Lean assessment, so as you can imagine, we are thrilled with all these accolades. Embedding and thinking lean in our daily working lives required a cultural shift and throughout our journey we have been fortunate to work in partnership with Neil Fedden and the team at Fedden USP and MIT Skills, who understand our specific demands and tailored the training accordingly. We already have a cohort of trainees lined up for the next NVQ2 and NVQ3 courses and through Fedden USP have now started to deliver training in the offices”.

Neil Fedden commented: “It was a real privilege to engage with the Siemens team who had already embraced the Lean enterprise culture and made significant improvements in the operation when we arrived on site. We have been able to embed the principles more thoroughly and support the team during their increased learning and understanding phases, prior to implementation of a further step in advancing their Lean culture and enhanced improvement activity”.