Active Lean Management in the Kathrein-Group

„Innovations Network Lean Management“ in the Kathrein-Group

It goes without saying that members of a network of companies work together. To try together to improve its internal operations is exemplary. For this reason employees from KATHREIN MobilCom Nördlingen (KMN) and Katek from Grassau meet regularly to learn from each other in workshops.

„Lean Mangagement“ as Driver for Innovations

In both locations the subject of 'lean management' has got a high priority. 'The right product at the right time in the best quality at an acceptable cost. This is the challenge that we face, ' say the initiators Sven Kunzmann (CMN) and Paul Altmann (katek). 'Lean Management' offers a variety of solutions for this purpose. The implementation of the theory in practical work was designed individually by every company according to their own ideas. Both sides benefit from the exchange of the experience they achieved.

The Network

Lean Management Gruppe
On the picture from left: Alexander Bekk (KMN), Andreas Fackler (KMN), Sven Kunzmann (KMN), Renate Meier (Katek), Paul Altmann (Katek), Heiko Müller (KMN), Simon Schied und Marc Rohleder (both Katek)

Already for the third time, a workshop on the lean system took place during spring 2014. Katek in Grassau started first in the spring of 2013 with a kick-off event. This became a constructive network by time. 'We work together on the lean topics such as workshop management, material flow and autonomous maintenance,' says Marc Rohleder by Katek. 'Ultimately the question preoccupies us like our employees become »lean activists«? ', Sven Kunzmann (KMN) adds. The mutual insights into the daily work and the exchange of experience will help us. The workshops are formed by line managers and employees together with the lean experts. Results are reported directly to the Executive Board. Thus, you are on a vertical way in the hierarchy and you create a 'bottom-up' communication. The Executive Board supports this program and thus backs the change in the top-down ratio.

The Workshop at Katek

During the workshop, the dialogue with the employees at the production facilities on-site was promoted. The open words and honesty of the answers convinced and the methods were actively practiced. The employees take over in the context of autonomous maintenance recurring maintenance tasks . Thus, the employee identifies with his machine and he can fix small errors without the help of a systems technician. This provides for reduced downtime and leads to an increase in productivity.

Also, the pull method (consumption control principle) in the material flow is present everywhere: the supermarket system (catch up the gap immediately) with Kanban Control (material staging is based solely on consumption in the production process) is now taken for granted among the employees.

'How will such visits affect the motivation of the staff?', this question is answered by Birgit Wruß, CIP Manager at Katek: 'the employee is able to describe his system by himself and can explain it. Thus, the lean methods gain acceptance and quality. This increases the motivation to participate.'

The team lean production management at Katek also integrates their trainees. 'Our trainees learn from the outset to deal with the motto «problem pulls method»', says Renate Meier by Katek. This is a good starting point to anchor the lean philosophy and to continue the paradigm shift. During their training session, the trainees deal among others with topics on workplace design and material flow solutions, which rounded off their training content.

Again a  final discussion deepened the day's content at the end of the workshop. All participants agreed with this  approach to be the right way of implementing the lean system. The next workshop will take place in the autumn of 2014 in Nördlingen.

Lean Management Gruppe
In discussion: Birgit Wruß (Katek)
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