Driving lean with Nissan

Posted on 27 Jan 2010 by The Manufacturer

A training programme, developed inside one of Nissan's manufacturing plants, is driving improvements throughout the sector thanks to the National Skills Academy for Manufacturing.

The Lean Leaders programme has been approved by the Skills Academy — part of the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (Semta) — and has already helped more than 50 firms in the North East. It has sought to provide key personnel with the skills they need to deliver improvements across the manufacturing process, and is now available to businesses across the country.

Originally developed at the Nissan plant in Sunderland with the help of Industry Forum — part of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders — the programme combines practical and classroom learning with outdoor team development activities. Throughout the four phases of the programme, candidates need to undertake relevant projects to demonstrate a measurable improvement in their own workplace.

Explained Semta development director, Bill Twigg, “The UK manufacturing industry faces increasing competition from a global market that demands ever higher standards when it comes to quality, cost and delivery. The only way UK manufacturers can remain competitive is by developing a culture that encourages continuous learning and the development of new skills.

“The Lean Leaders Programme was developed within a company renowned for its commitment to lean manufacturing techniques. These have been proven to improve efficiency and we are confident that many other manufacturers can benefit from Nissan’s experience.”

The programme is delivered by Nissan trainers, and candidates also benefit from spending time at the Nissan factory, a global leader in efficiency practices. Candidates are usually already working at a supervisory level within a manufacturing environment, or have been identified for promotion into such a role — so far approximately 300 people from more than 50 companies have taken part.