Real Improvements In Ambitious Engineering SME


Industry: Engineering

Core Processes: Machining, fabrication, painting and assembly

Core Products: Lifting clamps, hoists and equipment


Camlok Lifting Clamps Ltd manufactures lifting gear for a worldwide portfolio of customers.  The Chester business has been in operation since 1958 and currently employs about 40 people. Following the appointment of a new MD the business was being totally reorganised with considerable capital investment and realigning of the business taking place.
The MD felt that the time was right to undertake significant business process re- engineering with the aim of introducing and implementing Lean Manufacturing processes into the business.

Manufacturing Concerns

People: Little development and recognition. Hampered by a bonus system that rewards overtime and overproduction.
Parts: A complex product range. 6.5% of part numbers make up 80% of the production output. 93.5% of part numbers make up only 20% of the production output.
Plant: Little investment for many years. Shabby and disorganised with poor housekeeping standards.
Process: Batch production of all products, including unpopular products, causing high inventories, low resource effectiveness and month-end scrambles.


In simple terms the activity was to support the operations team to implement Lean Manufacturing Principles. This was done by following a structured programme made up of 6 phases of activity.

Phase 1 – Achieving Readiness
Gaining control

  • Setup control room and mechanism
  • Develop simple Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and communicate
  • Implement system and review impact

Capacity Planning

  • Identify bottlenecks
  • Develop and implement a simple control system – mix and volume

Payment System

  • Review bonus system, worked hours and skills – analyse current situation and assess impact


Phase 2 – Understanding the Big Picture

Current State – Information Flow Mapping

  • Backoffice mapping and feedback – standard and specials

Current State – Material Flow Mapping

  • Runners – mapping and leadtime matrix
  • Repeaters – mapping and leadtime matrix


Phase 3 – Setting the Direction

  • Runners, repeaters, strangers and specials strategy day – mini business characteristics
  • Commercial Objectives and Targets
      • Manufacturing Plan
      • Sales and Marketing Plan
      • R & D,  Design Plan
      • Materials Plan
      • Human Resources Plan


Phase 4 – Getting Some Quick Wins

Kaizen Storyboard Projects

  • Start projects and initial training

Office Quick Win

  • Conversion Improvement

Plant Quick Wins

  • Runners flowline
  • Profile OEE
  • Material kitting and delivery


Phase 5 – Building the Foundation
Team Leader Development

  • Ensuring Standards – Ensure Production (QCD)
  • People,`Parts,`Plant,`Process`audit and control system
  • “Best of the best” Standard operation development


Phase 6 – Systems and Sustainability
Steering Team

  • Steering Team Meeting and Set up

Lean Skills Transfer

  • Facilitator training – running kaizen events
  • Improvement systems training – sustainability


  • 40 jobs safeguarded through the business improvement work.
  • 2 other businesses successfully integrated onto the same site.

The Future

The next stage of development at Camlok Lifting Clamps Ltd is to really start to increase the pace of improvement in the knowledge that they are building on a firm foundation. Now that the KPI measurement system has been introduced it can be used to drive real improvement through target control and policy deployment.