Company's growth triggers lean journey

Thursday, July 22, 2010

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Home Medical Equipment in June began applying lean principles to its service department as a way of doing more work with the same number of employees.

“We’ve experienced a tremendous amount of growth since January and one of the byproducts of that is more business for our service department,” said Curtis Judd, general manager. “So we’re trying to see if we can increase our volume by eliminating some of the waste.”

Judd is leading Green Bay’s lean journey. He has taken a one-week course on being a lean facilitator and he has the company’s parent company, Hospital Sisters Health System, which is “really big on lean,” as a model.

Green Bay’s first step into lean: Value-stream mapping.

“That’s where we look at the current state of our processes,” Judd said.

Once Green Bay determines how it does things, it will determine how it wants to do things.

“We’ll look at root cause analysis and problem solving,” Judd said. “Then we’ll develop action steps and implement continuous improvement. We’re going to have rapid improvement days where we’ll dedicate certain days to improvement.”

Green Bay chose to get its hands dirty with its service department because it’s the least standardized part of the company.

“It’s a lot of variable work—no two products are really alike,” Judd said. “We’ve got so many processes right now that take you down paths where you don’t know why you’re doing it that way but you’re going with the flow.”

Eventually, Green Bay will apply lean principles company-wide.

“The service department is our No. 1 priority,” Judd said. “Then we’ll probably do rehab and then the others.”