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How Steel Business System Lean Champions Bolster Our Continuous Improvement Initiatives

Patrick Sondreal

Change has been accelerating at IWCO Direct. The biggest catalyst for change has been our acquisition by Steel Connect, which had a ripple effect for many other aspects of our business. For example, we are now a publicly traded company and have more resources and backing to support innovation. However, as far as our day-to-day activities go, it’s not just business as usual—it’s business better than usual.

Steel Connect Acquisition Expands Lean Benefits with the Steel Business System Methodology

One major benefit of our acquisition is the Steel Business System methodology. This is a program centered around the Lean principles that Steel Partners uses across its portfolio of companies. We’re no strangers to Lean—we’ve been utilizing Lean tools to solve business challenges for the last nine years, but the Steel Business System will help us evolve and grow our program.

The Steel Business System team gives us access to a much wider pool of Lean experts along with the opportunity to exchange ideas with others and gain new ideas to implement in our operations. The opportunity to connect with other business leaders and Lean experts on a centralized SharePoint site has given us a greater network to tap into for ideas and has become a great resource as we begin new initiatives. The SharePoint site allows us to communicate, capture, and track projects more easily.

Now, we have centralized resources to help enhance our Lean Program. This includes Steel Business Lean experts who have helped us facilitate and lead our team through training, value stream mapping, and Kaizens, which allows our own internal resources to focus on specific projects and initiatives.

Establishing Lean Champions and Further Aligning with Steel Business System Methodology

Since we’ve adopted the Steel Business System methodology, we’ve taken a closer look at our internal structure and found ways to align it with Steel’s. This includes assigning Lean Champions, who have become valuable resources to help guide us in utilizing Lean methodology.

Lean Champions are focused on driving sustainable process improvements, helping us expand our problem-solving culture, facilitating Lean events, identifying Kaizen opportunities via value-stream mapping exercises, and turning process improvement ideas into actionable initiatives.

Scott Dunham and JoAnne Sousa have become Steel Business System Lean Champions to align their responsibilities with the Steel Business System methodology. Scott is operating in Hamburg and JoAnne is working in Chanhassen. In the future, we hope to add another Lean Champion in Little Falls.

Steel Business System Initiatives Underway in Chanhassen

The Steel Business System methodology is moving forward in Chanhassen. We’ve held value-stream mapping exercises, completed a week-long training session, and completed two Kaizens to date. The first Kaizen focused on how to better control or mitigate over-production of envelopes, evaluating our routines, process, and communications between production and our clients. The second helped us establish visibility boards with RA converters and understand how we are doing from a Safety, Quality, Delivery, Inventory, and Productivity (SQDIP) standpoint.

Lean Benefits More than Our Production Floor

While Lean initiatives certainly benefit our business by making us faster, more efficient, and more accurate, they also benefit our clients. For them, these implementations mean shorter lead times, quicker turnaround, better quality, greater efficiency, and more metrics that drive SQDIP performance.

Our dedicated Lean Champions, coupled with support from the Steel Business System experts, gives us a more well-rounded, structured Lean program. We are utilizing these tools to enhance behaviors and culture to drive our quality metrics and keep us moving in the right direction.

If you have questions about the Steel Business System methodology and how we’re implementing it at IWCO Direct, feel free to contact me.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2018/07/11/steel-business-system-lean-champions/
Patrick Sondreal


Patrick Sondreal

Chief Production Officer. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Commissioned officer of the U.S. Navy who brings a commitment to teamwork and continuous improvement to IWCO Direct every day. Wisconsin Badger fan who loves being part of his kids’ activities.

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