Brad Osborne
Director of Supply Chain

Having recently been given the amazing opportunity to lead the supply chain team at Cogmedix, a medical device contract manufacturing company in Worcester, there were several things I hoped to accomplish.  Among these were ensuring I got to know my team (not only their skills, but their interests as unique individuals), ensuring my team was fully engaged in contributing to every possible facet of medical device manufacturing, and addressing the myriad of challenges that face every supply chain organization.  So, how is the “new guy” to accomplish this?

After taking a couple months to get my feet firmly planted, I recognized that among the challenges facing our team was a kitting process that was operating at a somewhat less-than-optimal level.  Everyone was working incredibly hard and the supply chain group had been quite successful at accomplishing the ultimate supply chain goal, which is ensuring manufacturing has “the right material, in the right quantities, at the right time”.  But after spending some time with those who were performing the kitting at a hands-on level, I quickly realized the process itself was ripe for a focused continuous improvement activity.

So what do kitting problems have to do with forming an engaged team?  It was at this point the Director of Manufacturing Operations and I recognized the opportunity to introduce not only the supply chain team, but also members of the operation and assembly teams to the lean concept of “Kaizen”.  Kaizen events are specifically designed to have a cross-functional team of individuals who are involved in a process come together for a period of time to review the process flow, identify issues, develop solutions, and take responsibility for implementing those solutions.  We have had three team meetings so far to review the kitting process, and the results have already been really eye-opening.

lean manufacturing kaizen events

Often, individuals who are involved daily in a process that crosses multiple organizational boundaries tend to gain an intense focus on their own portion of the process.  A Kaizen event provides the opportunity to take a step back with others in the process and, more often than not, results in the epiphany that we really are all in this together.

It is in that moment of realization—the moment we find our actions impact others and vice versa in sometimes significantly unseen ways—that we begin to care about each other as individuals and begin the transformation from a random group of people to a fully engaged team.  It’s that “Aha!” moment that starts us off in the passionate pursuit of improvement, the moment that is the genesis of establishing a real culture of continuous improvement.

There’s no mistake the real work lies ahead during future meetings, implementation of ideas and processes, refining the work we do today to make it better tomorrow…but the lean journey is definitely well on its way, and I couldn’t ask for better travel companions than my new friends here at Cogmedix!