LERC annual conference

Posted on 8 Jul 2009 by The Manufacturer

The Lean Enterprise Research Centre of Cardiff University has declared its annual conference, held yesterday (July 7), a resounding success.

Held in the green and pleasant surroundings of the Celtic Manor Resort in South Wales, the Annual Lean Enterprise Conference (Tuesday 7th July) enjoyed an excellent turnout from lean beginners, enthusiasts, representatives from a broad range of manufacturing sectors, and delegates from local authorities and healthcare organisations.

The tone for the day was set by an excellent opening presentation from Prof. Jon Seddon (Vanguard) on the need for a change of mindset in management, from an authoritative or advisory attitude to one of cooperation. Steering the lean debate away from tools and processes, Seddon emphasised that ‘you must understand demand in customer terms,’ his insights highlighting the benefits of managing value rather than cost, together with allowing workers to control their work more effectively by both training against demand and moving away from standardisation.

Arguably LERC’s highlight was in the appearance of five-time Shingo Prize winner for research excellence Steven Spear. His presentation highlighted – in no uncertain terms – the value of leadership based on a thorough understanding of the objectives of an organisation and the conditions under which its work is carried out. Spear was rapturously received by delegates, who engaged in an interactive discussion designed to pin-point those system faults and hidden turning points which regularly hamper an organisation’s operation.

Other speakers at the event included Prof. Peter Hines, who instigated a reappraisal of how all inclusive the traditional lean principals actually are (a debate which will be continuing in Prof. Hine’s ‘linkedin’ forums www.linkedin.com ), and Lean Operations MSc student Justin Watts, who brought a refreshing touch of ‘real world’ to the day with a presentation on his lean research and ‘factory physics’. Tim Blanch, Chief Exec of Coastal Housing Group also spoke.

Delegates attending the conference confirmed that the lean approaches taken by their organisations had enabled them to remain competitive throughout the recession, and, although cautious, many hoped to see a return to growth by the second quarter of 2010. The general atmosphere was one of quiet pride in those achievements that were being made despite the challenging economic conditions, coupled with a firm resolution to remain both positive and responsive to market recovery. An interest in the potential for additional service and support possibilities – coupled with the discovery of untapped niche markets – was an oft-repeated theme in the strategy of attendee organisations, including, among others, Carlisle Brake Products Ltd and BAE Systems.

The Lean Enterprise Research Centre at Cardiff University continues to run its extremely popular MSc in Lean Operations, and The Manufacturer will shortly be launching a ‘Lean Journal’ to support their efforts to improve and extend the communication of lean theory and practice in manufacturing organisations.