Lean Culture

Building a Lean Culture: A Food and Beverage Case Study

LeanCor has partnered with food and beverage manufacturers, distributors and resellers of an assortment of products ranging from bottled water and frozen dinners, packaged snack foods and candies, to refrigerated deli sandwiches. These are companies that embrace lean and recognize that the organization is only as good as its people. Including everyone in a cultural transformation will enable the success of a lean deployment. Cultural improvements will occur when lean is embraced from the team members working on the floor to the highest level in the organization.

Case Study Overview:

Building a lean culture in the food and beverage industry, creating collaboration between operations, and developing a streamlined process for product movements with little to no waste

Lean Culture Current State: Customer Challenges in the Food and Beverage Industry

The customer was experiencing disconnect in lack of flow within its supply chain. Specifically, this included a lack of collaboration and understanding of processes between 1) operations and developers, and 2) operations and the bottling company.

The lack of understanding the flow of the supply chain not only added steps and waste within the system, but it also added additional cost in moving and/or losing product, as well as increased concerns for quality issues with the product (each time the product is moved, the potential for damage and loss increases).

The customer understood the need to prepare all team members within the operation (including developers) with the knowledge necessary to:

  • Understand and maximize customer value while continuously striving to remove waste in all processes.
  • Break down silos to optimize the flow of products and services through the entire business through to end customers.
  • Enable the organization to respond to changing customer demands with flexibility.

Lean Culture Future State: Analysis, Tools, Solutions

LeanCor’s lean deployment team provided the bandwidth and expertise to ensure the project was focused on engaging the people, building capability, aligning activities, simplifying processes, and solving business problems. This included developing lean leaders who would grow and sustain the culture of continuous improvement internally. The project included the following components:

1. Strategy Deployment

  • Current State Development
  • Operations AssessmentLean Culture
  • Future State Development
  • Deployment Process

2. People Development

  • Curriculum Customization
  • Train the Trainer
  • Team Member Development
  • Develop Resources as Problem Solvers and Lean Thinkers
  • Application to Solve Problems
  • Coaching and Mentoring

3. Continuous Improvement

  • PDCS Drill
  • Developing Lean Thinking
  • Implementing Lean Concepts


  • Assess ROI
  • Assess Progress of Cultural Transformation

The project included a lean audit and XY matrix for future projects for each site and three days of lean fundamentals training for 33 students. LeanCor would spend one week at each operation working through projects to provide the knowledge and expertise to assist participants with:

Operation 1 – Development of parts board to minimize time looking for parts.

Operation 2 – Completion of 5S, relocation, development of process, and reduction of raw inventories.

Operation 3 – Development of team member shift board for daily work allocation. Creation of Kanban ordering system for inventory.

Lean Culture Results Thus Far: Deliverables, Improvements Customer Home-Runs

This is a one-year project, and phase 1 of the project is now complete. Phase 1 included a site assessment for each operation (3 in total) and lean fundamentals training and coaching for 33 leaders ranging from team leads to director level. The project began with lean leader training as they will be internally driving the organizational improvements. The positive financial impact will be achieved through the activities conducted and methodologies implemented during the project, including:

  • Project Work
    • Elimination of non-value added activities (waste)
    • Better collaboration across functions
  • Problem Solving
    • Problem identification and elimination at root cause
  • System Thinking/Total Cost
    • Reduced total cost through systems thinking

“It is becoming abundantly clear that [LeanCor’s] skills, experience and approach are going to make a big difference in our [operations].” Vice President, Operations – Customer Testimonial

Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

blog author

LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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