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Case Study - Project Olive

The Business: A water and sewerage testing and analytical services laboratory integrated as a commercial division of a large public water utility. The lab was formerly owned by local government council.

The Brief: As Project Manager review the lab operations to determine methods to improve output and capacity constraints and causes of sub-optimal financial performance, and to implement solutions. Provide introductory training and awareness on 5S and Lean principles.

Background: A reasonably well equipped laboratory was perceived to have bottle-necks causing extended lead times and complicated by multiple testing procedure routings, and multiple jobs.

The lab was run on a per Department basis with the microbiology lab, external pick-up and sampling, and general chemistry lab running in isolation. The sampling process planning was a scheduling activity covering a wide geographical region without any consideration to the loading on the lab. The result was the lab was under-utilised in the morning and staff under pressure & working overtime in the afternoon, due to short shelf life of the samples.

The scope included:

  • Developing a value stream map and process flow chart.

  • Auditing key equipment utilisation and identifying related operational issues.

  • Analysing job test records and finding and identifying a large portion of repeat jobs with labour times that could be used for forecast loadings.

  • Auditing existing sampling planning process to find a practice of copying past runs and repeating errors.

  • Validating key sampling records to determine key logistics information was not documented effectively and coordinate the development in a common database.

  • Developing a sales and operations planning process to improve visibility of the plan and resource loading and developing a cross-functional review to further refine the plan. The schedule developed included a traffic light system highlighting loading on key equipment or test procedures. This was a key impact outcome.

  • Develop a financial dashboard with key operational, HR and financial metrics.

  • Review and correct the operational hourly rate used for costings.

  • The project was extended to do an audit on another lab for a potential JV bid and identified broader opportunities and operational efficiencies for both Labs.

PACE Outcome Assessment. 
Using a Problem, Assessment, Corrective Action, and End Results framework, the review of the project headlines are:

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