Skip to main content

Process Improvements, Efficiency, and Streamlining: “Is Now the Time to Revisit ‘Lean’?”

July 11, 2024

This week, our Managing Director Karly Lattimore had the opportunity to attend the British Printing Industries Federations Sustainability Symposium and a round table discussion led by Paul Gamble of Whittington Moor Printing Works on Process Improvements, Efficiency, and Streamlining. The theme, “Is Now the Time to Revisit ‘Lean’?”, highlighted a crucial aspect of the manufacturing industry: the importance of effective process leadership.

The discussions underscored that true leadership, especially process leadership, is vital for transforming the hearts and minds of staff, motivating through change, and empowering decision-making. This isn’t about executive or senior leadership. It’s about those on the ‘shop floor’ who directly impact production, morale, motivation, and productivity. These leaders are the linchpins of the manufacturing industry, seamlessly bridging the gap between production and leadership.

Do We Have the Right Process/Production Leadership Skills?

However, there’s a growing concern about a significant skills gap in this area. Many businesses have exceptional production operatives and technicians poised for leadership roles but lack the critical skills needed to effectively lead both people and processes. This isn’t about requiring high-level managerial skills, but rather real leadership skills directly linked to the manufacturing process.

Far too often, we see talented technicians set up to fail as they transition into production leadership roles without the necessary training and support. The result is not just a personal setback for these individuals but a potential loss in productivity and morale across the production line.

The Solution: Process Leader Apprenticeships

We firmly believe that the solution lies in specialised training, particularly apprenticeships that focus on these essential leadership skills. By investing in process leader apprenticeships, we can equip our future leaders with the tools they need to succeed.

The process leader apprenticeship, a 24-month program, is available to those in work who are looking to upskill and develop their production leadership skills or those progressing from a print technician role. During the apprenticeship, leaders will learn to undertake and direct production activities and operations, propose, manage, and coordinate changes to products, production operations, processes, and equipment to improve productivity, efficiency, quality, and sustainability.

They will be trained in solving problems by predicting and preventing failures through data and information analysis. Additionally, they will manage resources effectively to ensure availability and efficient running of the department. The apprenticeship emphasises delivering cost achievements against budget targets and planning resources. Leaders will use KPIs as the basis of the continuous improvement cycle for quality, cost, and volume achievement, utilising lean operational and product improvement techniques.

Managing health, safety, and the environment within their area of responsibility is a key component, ensuring staff compliance with all requirements and driving improvements. Leaders will develop project management tools to plan, organise, and manage resources, monitor progress, and identify risks and mitigation strategies. They will be able to recruit the right people for the right jobs and develop, build, and motivate teams by identifying strengths and enabling training and development within the workplace.

Recognising excellence and effectively managing performance, discipline, attendance, and grievances are also covered. Leaders will support development through coaching and mentoring, lead and communicate the management of change, and provide clear direction and leadership while giving open and honest feedback. They will learn to apply and adapt their leadership style to different production situations and people, delegate and enable delivery through others, and build and maintain strong relationships across different disciplines.

Moreover, they will develop techniques to negotiate and influence, manage conflict, and identify and share good practices.

By investing in process leader apprenticeships, we can equip our future leaders with the tools they need to succeed. Effective process leaders ensure that printing operations run smoothly, efficiently, and safely, driving significant improvements within the manufacturing operations.

Bridging the Skills Gap

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to bridge this skills gap. By revisiting and investing in ‘Lean’ principles and targeted apprenticeships, we can ensure our technicians not only excel in their current roles but thrive as the future leaders of the manufacturing industry. It’s time to empower our workforce with the leadership skills necessary to drive success from the ground up.








Stay current with our latest newsletter insights

    Read our terms and conditions