Read how Fortaco has executed operational excellence

Lean is often misunderstood. If you’ve got millions to spend, you can get to lean with a top down approach. But for companies like Fortaco, an organic approach may not only make more sense, it may be the best way to go. Fortaco considers itself a learning organization, and failure can teach one a lot. Several years back Fortaco appointed lean experts to “inject” lean into its operations. Months passed and progress was limited. “Training, telling stories, and showing slides was not enough to make a change,” says Andrzej Wrona, Fortaco’s Director of Operational Excellence. “The ‘expert approach’ didn’t deliver the desired result because the experts were external to the processes.”

Fortaco’s experience was that without a mandate and absolute authority to change layout and systems – and without massive financial resources – lean would largely remain a manufacturing fairytale. “What we learned in our first attempt was that machine operators and line workers know where the waste is,” says Wrona. “They could eliminate it, too, if we could organically create the right environment for them to do so.” 

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