The Barden Corporation is a member of the multinational Schaeffler Group, which specialises in bearing technologies and precision products for the aerospace, industrial plant and automotive industries. The Group has around 76,000 employees at more than 180 locations worldwide and oversees three main brands: FAG, INA and LUK.
From its Plymouth base, Barden specialises in the manufacture of super precision ball bearings for safety-critical and harsh environment applications in a broad range of market sectors, from aerospace bearings to high performance machine tools.
Given the nature of product and applications, Barden has always been committed to delivering the highest standards of quality, safety and innovation. Keen to introduce the concept and tools of Lean engineering into the business, Barden engaged external training provider, LEAD, building upon and supporting their drive towards greater efficiency, reduced waste and improved profitability. In particular, Barden wished to implement a programme of continuous improvement throughout its workforce, and worked closely with LEAD to ensure training was aligned with corporate business strategy and tailored to meet the needs of employees.
Over the course of a year, two training initiatives were implemented by LEAD, the first to introduce Lean philosophy and methodology to the workforce, and the second to continue its integration within the business. Each training session took place over a 3-day period and utilised a range of Lean tools, such as 5S audits, Health & Safety audits, 5 Whys and 8 Wastes, Payback Matrix and Cause & Effect Analysis.
The first phase: introducing Lean methodology
During the first training initiative, nine teams were formed, each focusing on a specific area of the business and aiming to achieve real and quantifiable improvements through the utilisation of Lean tools.
The first team looked at workflow and by introducing new methods and revising the floor plan, were able to reduce throughput time by 50%.
Team Two improved control and ownership of one particular storage section by de-cluttering work areas, implementing SOPs and reducing slip and trip hazards. This enabled space to be freed up for possible future manufacturing processes.
The third team looked at ways of improving 5S standards on machines and reducing set-up time. By reorganising storage areas and aisles, introducing a new SOP and setting visual 5S standards in place, they achieved a 5% reduction in set up time, with corresponding cost savings. All members of the team felt they had increased their knowledge of Lean techniques and, in the near future, hoped to introduce new racking and lifting equipment, train operators to work with the new SOP and further reduce set up time.