Lean Transformation Resuscitates Medical Device Company's Bottom Line

The Client

A manufacturer of medical devices including pacemakers and testing devices used for drug testing, clinical diagnostics, genetic analysis, and more.

The Challenge

The client needed help to lean their operation while increasing throughput and reducing inventories.  They freely admitted that its manufacturing system was “less than satisfactory”, driving unacceptably high costs, higher-than-necessary levels of component inventory, and risks of finished product obsolescence.

The Solution

As we began our engagement, a healthy dose of skepticism greeted the team.  Many of the client’s employees had heard all about “that value-added and non-value-added stuff” and didn’t believe it really mattered all that much. To counter this and begin winning them over, our team conducted a two-day Lean simulation exercise that illustrated the nature and benefits of being Lean.

Next, using our proprietary, integrated Lean process design solution, LeanView™, we helped the client to map its critical processes resulting in several value-stream maps being produced:

1) An end-to-end map of the entire enterprise viewed at a high level.
2) A current state maps for each of the four processes that led to final assembly.
3) Process task maps to identify inherent wastes in each process within a value stream.
4) A future state map that depicted where the client needed to go at this time.

Once the value-stream maps were completed, we helped the client to begin the early stages of a Lean transformation.  Lean principals were first taught and then reinforced company-wide through a blended learning system that was customized to fit the clients’ business model.

Over a six-week period the manufacturing floor was converted from a batch assembly operation to a sequenced pull operation, and Kanban and the 5Ss helped to open up floor space for production and assembly.

Performance Results


Increase in throughput from revised testing


Increase in pacemaker throughput


decrease in total inventory dollars


increase in production space


increase in assemply area space


After this initial transformation, throughput in the pacemaker operation increased 66%, rack space requirements were reduced by 25%, reconfiguration of the assembly areas opened up 30% more floor space and inventory investment decreased 22%.

However, this marked only the beginning of the Lean journey for the client.  A five-year plan was developed to extend Lean principals into other manufacturing areas and, ultimately, throughout the company.  A quarterly review by our team and the client’s executive management group a Lean audit mechanism has been put into place to ensure that progress continues and that the ultimate destination – a Lean enterprise-wide system – remains in plain sight.

When asked how he felt about the consulting dollars they’d invested to-date the company’s Vice President and CFO quickly summed it up by saying, “These improvements had a very positive impact on the bottom line of the company.”

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