Lean Six Sigma helped production chemist Declan McGeeney from Mullaghbawn, Co Armagh to identify and reduce lengthy downtime issues for his employer, Norbrook Laboratories.
Norbrook is a world leader in pharmaceutical products and the largest privately owned veterinary pharmaceutical company in the world. It employs over 2,000 staff at its head office in Newry and a further 1,500 worldwide.
Declan joined Norbrook in 2013 and was appointed as a production chemist in 2014. He is responsible for all the manufacturing and filling operations within one of the production suites. “I manage the operatives within the Suite and ensure that all correct protocols are followed at every stage of the process. I keep an eye on every aspect of production and paperwork; I manage weekly schedules and production targets and deal with any breakdowns. The work is varied and I am surrounded by a great team in which everyone is excellent at what they do so I enjoy coming to work every day.”
Declan was looking to do a course that would directly benefit his current role and he came across the Lean Six Sigma course through a friend. “After some research, I saw that Dundalk Institute of Education offered the course at a very reasonable price. When I discovered that our new operations director was a black belt in Lean Six Sigma, I knew then it would be the right choice for me.”
Lean Six Sigma is a project management process primarily focused on the elimination of ‘waste’ within a company in all its forms and this can include areas like the manufacture of defective products, underutilised staff talent, inefficient work practices, etc. It follows a specific path called ‘DMAIC’ which stands for Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control to arrive at the solution to a business problem.
The main issue in Declan’s suite was downtime due to unavoidable but lengthy changeovers. “Lean Six Sigma showed me that there are more wastes in processes than you would think. Using the tools, we were taught to identify the wastes as a team and come up with short and long term solutions. This course has shown me how to think about processes differently, and to do them more efficiently not only in work but in everyday life. Now when looking at processes I am automatically trying to find waste and a solution for that,” he continued.
Declan now has a Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma and his sights are firmly set on the next level. He said, “It was a great move for me and I am delighted to have done it. Several directors at Norbrook have Black Belts so it seems to fit in well with production. I hope to move into Project Management within Norbrook soon and I plan to do Black Belt course sometime in 2016.”
Declan is also going to apply Green Belt prowess to his personal life as well. “I plan to project manage the building of my own house in 2016 and I know the whole Lean Six Sigmas process will be of huge benefit to me!”