Collins Steel has had a structured approach to continuous improvement since 2009, when a few of the company’s managers read The Toyota Way. From there, they undertook lean training for the whole company, Kaizen projects, and Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training with a project focused on lead time reduction in detailing. Since 2015, Collins has been moving continuous improvement to their front line people by enabling a ‘fix what bugs you’ approach inspired by 2-Second Lean by Paul Akers.
In 2016, the Collins participated in GO Productivity’s Process & Systems Innovation Program, where Ian Pinnell, Drafting Office Manager, took part in a benchmarking tour to Ontario and completed his Lean Six Sigma Green Belt to learn from his peers and share his experiences with his industry colleagues.
Collins Steel is an Edmonton based structural steel and fabrication company that serves the commercial, institutional, industrial, light industrial, and high-rise markets. Since its inception, the company has grown from a team of four to employing nearly 100 people.
Ever since the company started in 1984, the organization has been steadily working to improve the manufacturing and installation techniques of the industry. Collins is a leader in design build, design assist, integrated project delivery (IPD), and building information modelling (BIM). The team recognizes that technology is only one aspect of innovating the construction process, and that collaboration between people and group is critical to the success of projects.
Collins Steel has had a strong internal corporate culture of continuous improvement within the organization and a desire to continue both their learning from peers and their sharing of knowledge and expertise with others.
Venues for this sort of peer-to-peer learning were often limited in availability and in scope of the learning and sharing activities and opportunities. Often done informally through industry events and meetings, the learning and sharing can often feel stifled by the demands of day-to-day business.
How GO Productivity helped
Ian Pinnell of Collins Steel participated in GO Productivity’s Process & Systems Innovation Program in early 2016, travelling to southern Ontario for a multi-day tour of manufacturing facilities at various stages of their own improvement journeys, and completing his training in Lean Six Sigma Green Belt from GO Productivity.
What results were achieved?
While it wasn’t the primary focus of the Process & Systems Innovation Program, Ian found one of the most valuable aspects to be the networking with fellow lean thinkers and meeting new industry
colleagues trying to tackle similar issues in their respective businesses. The training and Gemba walks through the program exposed Collins to new ideas and showcased new ways of looking at concepts they have already learned.
The insight gained through simple conversation about what others are doing, what struggles they face, and what solutions are working has allowed Collins to see their own business in a new light, and Pinnell is refreshed and reenergized to keep going on the path of sustained growth and innovation.
Collins gained a new outlook on what it means to innovate, and the entire program gave them new strategies to grow within and beyond their own marketplace. An example is one of their current customers was struggling to get another building material for the buildings Collins Steel was building with them. As a result Collins Steel is now producing that product, concrete panels.