Ben Wigzell (ILF2014)

Institution: Shinka Management
Course: Lean Japan Tour

My introduction to the Industry Leaders Fund was through Regional Development Australia and our company’s involvement in regional industry leaders group forums. These forums are a vehicle to continually discuss the challenges regarding our regional business and employment network across a range of industries. Lean management training was highlighted as one possibility in overcoming some of these challenges, and subsequently it was suggested that I apply for the funding.

Given the fast-pace nature of our business, I didn’t consider the fund at first, wrongly assuming it would soak up more of my “valuable” time. I unenthusiastically contacted the Industry Leaders Fund and spoke to Geoff Vogt. Geoff immediately put me at ease and encouraged me to undertake the application which turned out to be a simple process.

I applied for the Shinka Lean industry tour of Japan and was fortunate enough to be successful with the grant. I travelled to Japan In May 2015 with the Shinka Management Group. Not only was this an intensive six day immersion into the world of lean manufacturing, it was also an extremely rewarding cultural experience, including a Japanese business culture seminar, amazing food, sightseeing and urban landscapes. We visited a wide variety of businesses, including Ito En, Toyota, Gifu Auto Body, Isuzu and Nishin Flour Mills. We studied their processes in fine detail and I gained a great deal of knowledge as a result.

For me, being successful in this application and having the amazing opportunity to undertake this Japanese tour has not only strengthened my personal professional development, but more importantly, it has taught me that with some simple, no cost changes to daily processes, a substantial amount of waste can be removed, which in turn can free my capacity to undertake more tasks in my daily operations.

For our business, our State Managers are now undertaking lean studies over the next 12 months and I am assisting the South Australian Business Manager with the opportunity to undertake the lean tour through the Industry Leaders Fund in 2016. We have applied lean principles to some areas of our factory, and we are working on visual management tools for certain work stations. As we become further educated and apply lean across the entire South Australian factory, we expect to see significant reductions in waste.

For South Australia, applying these principles to our factory helps us on our path to becoming the leading pulse production plant in the state. The reduction of waste and increased production capacity that we think are achievable will decrease the overall cost per production tonne, which allows capacity to process additional supply materials, which may normally be drawn interstate for production. There is a possibility of major benefit to our state growers, who through quicker delivery times and better production capacity, have a possibility for better return on product, but more importantly, ability to deliver on time as needed will further free their capacity and allow them to continue with their operations throughout their busy harvest periods.

In summary, the Industry Leaders Fund offers a simple process for application, and remains supportive throughout the process. The knowledge gained through the amazing opportunity I undertook is not only personally invaluable, but offers major benefits to our company and the state. I strongly recommend applying for the Industry Leaders Fund.