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Call in the Experts


By Jason Gledhill, Head of Reliable Maintenance


With the continuous cold weather through the winter, we rely on our central heating systems to keep our houses warm, so when my elderly parents called me to say their radiators weren’t warming up and ask me if I could take a look at their central heating system, I had no choice but to say yes.

Now bear in mind, I’m no central heating expert, in-fact, my level of knowledge covers three areas, boiler pressure, timer switches and bleeding radiators. I checked the water pressure, all okay. I checked the timer switch, working perfectly. Finally, I bled all the radiators, no air in the system. The central heating system was fired up and, after 10 minutes the radiators checked for temperature. Although they were warm, they weren’t as warm as they should be.

After making a few telephone calls, a local central heating engineer arrived at the house. The engineer asked if we had tried anything. I explained that I was no expert, and talked him through checking the timer, pressure and bleeding the radiators.

Smiling the heating engineer said “that’s one of the main problems these days, everybody knows a bit, but they’re not experts”. 20 minutes later he had diagnosed that the pump was failing and by the end of the day had replaced the pump and my parents, once again, had a fully functioning central heating system.

Fast forward two weeks and a visit to a prospective client’s site. The prospective client had started a Lean Manufacturing programme around 18 months ago. They had tried many things, such as 5S, Kaizen, SMED and Autonomous Maintenance. The site had seen some success but were struggling to sustain new initiatives and deliver an improvement to the bottom line.

When the site started their improvement journey, they promoted a shift manager to Continuous Improvement manager. Talking to the Continuous Improvement manager about the tools and techniques employed at the site and the training that he had undergone he explained “I’m no expert, but I worked on this stuff at a former employer’s site”, smiling at him I said the exact same words spoken to me by a knowledgeable heating engineer “that’s one of the main problems these days, everybody knows a bit, but they’re not experts”.

You wouldn’t strip your central heating boiler down if you weren’t 100% qualified and knew what you were doing, you’d call in an expert. So why do so many businesses start a Lean Improvement Programme with out calling in the experts?

Before you start your Improvement journey, call in the experts, call in LI Europe.



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It’s brilliant! We used to produce 3 or 4 full bins of waste a day now we’re down to less than ½ a bin! The final bit of work we do should reduce it to virtually nothing!

Operator – Branded Bakery

Firstly, Reckitt Benckiser and LI pulled together to improve efficiency levels and there was a focus on both external and internal resources. Before LI arrived efficiency was not good. Secondly, there was good methodology and training using operators to support its implementation. Thirdly, there was daily and hourly focusing on performance. Since LI left, improvements have been sustained.

Bart Derde, Supply Projects Director (Europe), Reckitt Benckiser