Much to gain from learning about Lean

APRIL 01, 2016 / Articles


The Academic Care Team arranged an introduction day for the Year 12 and 13 students who have chosen to do Lean courses through the Career Advantage Programme. The event was delivered by Geerton Lengkeek and Liddy Bakker of Intent, New Zealand’s leading lean consultants.

Learning about “lean” principles is valuable no matter what jobs our students may move into, and extends to personal lives as well, such as having good workflow in personal living spaces.

There are four Lean courses offered through an online platform which provides flexibility for learners:

  • 1a and 1b – which are overviews of the competitive advantages of lean, differentiated by manufacturing and office orientations.
  • 2 – how to create a lean culture.
  • 3 – how to apply lean systems and practices in the workforce.

In the introductory event, students learnt background principles and the mindset behind the lean philosophy, and then engaged in an aeroplane simulation game where lean principles are embedded through progressive practice.

In the first phase, students were placed in a disorganised ‘company’ which resulted in no aeroplanes being made, and lots of scrap and unfinished goods that cost the company money. By the fourth phase, after several adjustments and refinements, four shifts of students made a total of 33 planes in six minutes – a new record for four shifts!

Our clever lean course students challenged how efficiencies could be gained in production through refinements such as 5S workplace organisation, workflow analysis, making planes in batches of one not five, spreading workloads, identifying constraints and how to eliminate them, and visual management of performance vs time.

Overall the nexus between the theory of lean and the practical application of building lego planes as a team in a production line lifted the students' understanding of lean methodology. Incorporated into the presentation were valuable concepts such as working as a team, as depicted by the exercise of lifting the bar steadily as a team.

In the second part of the day, the group visited Tru-Test, a leading agricultural product innovator, to see lean principles in action. They absorbed the practical application of daily meeting boards, workspace organisation, and materials flow.

Regional Principal Phil Muir adds that “it’s fabulous having our students involved in Lean. We are also trialling Lean management concepts at our Waikato campus, and many of the Community’s businesses are running Lean systems. By our students being involved in such courses, they become even more ‘work ready’, which is our ultimate end-goal.”

The success of the day in bringing together theory and reality will surely shape the course of the CAP curriculum in the future so these workplace ready students can hit the ground running!

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