An automotive supplier’s engineering department was overwhelmed with manufacturing issues on recent customer launches and rework issues within product development whilst needing to resource their most ambitious product development for a new customer.

The rework cycle was out of control driving escalating portfolio complexity, cost of non-quality and time pressures all of which were impacting the morale of the engineering teams.

The consulting team brought a contingent lean approach to product development helping the client team to understand that product development is not one process but a complex business system, that is the net outcome of many processes, each with potentially competing objectives, performance measures and timelines.

To reverse the viscous cycle we first focussed on applying lean at a “macro” or business systems level – above the level of individual delivery processes, because applying lean at an individual process level in engineering is no guarantee of improving an overall engineering outcome.

We enabled the client to stabilise the situation to release engineering resource that delivered the new product on time, below budget and to the required quality using a contingent lean business system approach. Our work resulted a 25% productivity increase in the engineering department whilst launching more products faster and to a higher quality standard.