23 Jul 2024


‘Game-changing’ best-practice training opens up to SMEs

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, is launching a version of its “lean academy” that will allow mid-sized companies and SMEs to learn “game-changing” methods to boost their efficiency and growth at a relatively low cost. Until now the best-practice training system has been available only to larger organisations.

Lean is a business-model and management system based on continuously improving processes and efficiency, leading to greater productivity. It has already been adopted by companies including JCB and Caterpillar, where it is delivered via company-specific programmes requiring significant investments.

These high costs have put the technique out of reach for many smaller manufacturers, but EEF says that its new Lean Academy will level the playing field. It is based on a full-scale, configurable, transportable modular assembly line, that can be reconfigured daily to challenge a company’s employees as they work through a 12-day programme. This makes the exercises real-to-life and relevant to the individual business. The content of the Academy is bespoke, helping employees to apply the techniques in their particular workplace.

The new approach also overcomes a criticism of previous attempts to provide this type of training to mid-sized and SME manufacturers – the limiting of practical exercises to desktop-scale activities using Lego or three-pin plugs.

“This is a vital step forward in giving mid-sized and SME manufacturers the same access to game-changing techniques to boost efficiency and growth as their larger peers,” says Dr Steve Chicken, the EEF’s manufacturing growth director. “For many smaller companies the cost of a dedicated lean academy is prohibitive, while the desktop versions are unrealistic and difficult to apply in the workplace. Our new academy solves both these issues and lifts the barriers preventing smaller manufacturers from taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by lean.”

The new academy can be run at a company’s premises or at EEF’s technical training centre in Aston, near Birmingham.