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New Lean Manufacturing and Services Programme for businesses in the south east

Monday, 3 September 2012

Lean Manufacturing and Services is an area that is crucially important to a range of companies based in the South East region. Lean is a philosophy which has developed over the past decades and is most notably practiced by Toyota in its manufacturing processes. It seeks to reduce waste of all kinds (time, motion, waiting, inventory etc) and places the customer at the heart of everything it does. This philosophy has provided enormous benefits for a range of industries and as a consequence it is a feature of most manufacturing environments at this point. Furthermore, Lean is a toolset that is being applied to the services sector increasingly. The Postgraduate Diploma in Business in Lean Practice is a new programme offered by the Department of Graduate Business at WIT, Waterford which has been designed innovatively to engender the skills and mindset necessary for successful application of Lean in a business context. The 2012 report of the Research Prioritisation Steering Group of Forfás has identified Medical Devices, Manufacturing Competitiveness and Innovation in Business and Services Processes as priority areas. The content of this programme is directly relevant to each of these areas while it also provides an academic framework which has practical implications for industry across these research priorities. The prioritisation of these areas suggests that:
a) The field is associated with a large global market or markets in which Irish based enterprises already compete or can realistically compete
b) Publicly performed R&D in Ireland is required to exploit the priority area and will complement private sector research and innovation in Ireland
c) Ireland has built or is building (objectively measured) strengths in research disciplines relevant to the priority area
d) The priority area represents an appropriate approach to a recognised national challenge and/or a global challenge to which Ireland should respond.
(source: Forfás Research Prioritisation Report Forfas Research Prioritisation Report )
Developed with input from Lake Region Medical (which recently became the first company in Ireland and first medical device company in Europe to receive Shingo Accreditation) and with the the support of the IMDA and other stakeholders the programme provides a flexible opportunity for those who are trying to balance work, life and learning. Consisting of 12 modules the programme will provide participants with direct industry engagement through seminars, live projects, company visits and peer interaction. Moreover the programme entails varied delivery modes – only 4 of the 12 modules are delivered in the traditional manner. The remaining modules are delivered in focused blocks to allow for thorough immersion in the topic. This programme will have concentrated industry involvement in its delivery. This is particularly necessary in programmes where Lean Practice is the subject matter. This will expose participants to senior practitioners in lean operations and allow them to be immersed in world class attitudes and approaches to manufacturing in PharmaChem, Medical Device, the Food Industry and other contexts. Similarly, lean services will be a focal point. This programme has been designed with varied delivery platforms. Participants will engage in day-long intensive workshops which will be faculty-led with significant industry interaction and will be supported by a mixture of blended and traditional classroom delivery over the following weeks. WIT's online learning environment, Moodle, will be deployed and used across all modules. Covering topics such as Lean Project Management, Supply Chain Management, Operations and Communication participants are expected to experience the cut and thrust of lean very quickly. This is supplemented by topics such as Change Management and Innovation.
Lean has been identified within the recent Forfás report Guidance for Higher Education providers on current and future skills needs of enterprise, Forfás. as a cross-disciplinary skills requirement in a number of key sectors; Bio-PharmaChem, Medical Devices, Wholesale and Retail and Food & Beverage. This course has been designed to reflect a need for skills at the cutting edge but also for the adoption of a mindset. In some cases the skills required for lean based operations are easily attained – however they become lost without the appropriate philosophical and rounded perspective on business and operations.

This programme has been developed to address a communicated need within industry in the South East. The need that has been identified is that there is a lack of opportunities for individuals to develop a thorough understanding of lean and the application of this within an organisational context. More particularly industry practitioners have requested that a course be provided which emphasises a wider behavioural understanding of the key tenets of the lean philosophy. Existing courses tend to focus on tools and techniques which are narrow by their nature and while they are useful their application is context-free and limited in their potency. The development of this programme has been guided by the input of Lean practitioners and will have strong industry involvement in the delivery and co-ordination of programme content.
Guidance for Higher Education providers on current and future skills needs of enterprise, Forfás.
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