Hyperion West Branch and Lean Management

Lean Management is a management philosophy that emphasizes low-waste, teamwork, and continuous improvement. In order to be a global leader in hard materials and technologies, Hyperion strictly adheres to the philosophies of lean management—this is especially true at our West Branch location.

Start the day with a “Gemba” walk

“Gemba” is a Japanese term that means “the real place” and it refers to where the real work is done—in manufacturing, this is the shop floor. The goal is to have executives, managers, and leaders step away from their offices and gain the perspective of those working on the floor. These leaders choose a theme to focus on during their walk (efficiency, safety, sustainability or any number of other themes), record activities that relate to/conflict with the theme, analyze the impact of these activities, share their findings with those who were observed during the walk, and communicate changes taking place as a result of the walk. Respect for employees being observed is of utmost importance, as the walk is meant to be a team exercise that builds trust among all employees.

Gemba walks at Hyperion West Branch are the ultimate evaluation of our value chain. They make sure we’re only doing activities that bring value to the end customer, while ensuring our employees are safe and happy. The Hyperion West Branch team utilizes “Gemba Boards” at various departments to ensure that quality control, organization, and safety protocols are being followed. Additionally, product defects are tracked by department source, and team members visit the source to determine causes and improvements.

Kaizen: Continuous Improvement!

“Kaizen” is another Japanese term—it roughly translates to “continuous improvement” or “positive incremental changes” and can take multiple forms. Examples of day-to-day Kaizen include reporting inefficient methods to supervisors, identifying bottlenecks in production, and maintaining organized workspaces.

Additionally, Kaizen can occur as a multiple-day training session, as was the case for the Hyperion team in early 2022. Hyperion West Branch participated in the Hyperion Precision Solutions Kaizen event, which placed a strong emphasis on standardizing operations throughout the Precision Solutions group. Hyperion employees from throughout the country came together for almost a week to collaborate and reduce waste within the value chain.

Lean Management for a Better Future

Lean management results in higher-quality production, more fulfilled workers, and greater throughput, though an often-disregarded benefit is its ability to transform a firm’s sustainability. Continuous improvement means every day opportunities for limiting waste present themselves, and limiting waste translates directly to improving sustainability. Minimizing manufacturing defects minimizes the amount of raw material wasted on scrapped products. Reducing the time an operation takes, or making production time shorter, results in employees focusing on value-adding tasks and minimizes energy waste. Lastly, limiting overproduction (often through the use of the Kanban system) shrinks the amount of space needed to store excess inventory, and allows workers to focus on work that adds value to the end customer.

When a company adopts lean management practices, wasteful activities are replaced with activities that not only improve the efficiency of the company, but ensure that no resources are used without purpose—this is key to building a sustainable future.