- Some of the employees at their Level 3 Lean Academy graduation
By Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
A total of 175 employees of APM Terminals Apapa, expected to lead in introducing innovative solutions to terminal operations with the goal of improving efficiency and customer service, have graduated as lean practitioners since the Lean Academy started in 2019.
Lean thinking is a transformational framework that provides a new way to organising human activities to deliver more benefits to society and value to individuals while eliminating waste.
Derived from Toyota’s 1930 operating model, “The Toyota Way”, the philosophy is based on a Lean manufacturing method aimed primarily at reducing time within the production system as well as response time from suppliers and to customers.
In a statement, APM Terminals Apapa disclosed that the company is transformed by re-tooling and re-educating employees to eliminate waste, boost productivity and promote innovation every day. According to Way of Working (WoW) Project Manager, Martin Kjeldsen, “our employees play a central role in our transformation.
“They are the ones who will make Apapa a great place to work through involvement and engagement within our Way of Working, through high level of Lean education, a Lean mindset and Kaizens – for immediate, real results and long-term sustainable impact.”
The company noted that in past years, it worked extensively on identifying talent at Apapa to support the future Lean journey and build relations within the Apapa team to ensure cross-functional collaboration.
“The end of 2021 showed that we are on the right Lean path in Apapa,” WoW Project Manager, Jan Jensen, said. “Lean training and coaching are now showing more engagement and more willingness to learn how to use the Lean tools to improve our daily work-life balance.
“We are beginning to see the result around the terminal where employees start and execute their own team Kaizens to improve their processes and the way they perform their daily work.”
Kjeldsen added that “practicing Lean requires a changed mindset from running the business to improving the business, helping us prevent fire-fighting in our day-to-day job. It’s not easy, but it is manageable if we set our minds to it; if we invest heavily in WoW and celebrate our successes.”
According to the statement, a major milestone in the terminal’s Lean journey is the introduction of practical WoW coaches – a dedicated stand-alone role with the objective of strengthening the company’s Lean capabilities and knowledge of WoW tool.
A practical WoW Coach, Victor Enegide, describes Lean as a systematic way of eliminating waste while focusing on individual development, adding: “To us as employees, it gives a better understanding of what we do on a day-to-day basis. It also makes us understand that we shouldn’t let good get in the way of better.
“Its benefit to operation is the elimination of waste, improvement of truck turnaround time and better customer satisfaction. It also reduces bottlenecks to enable the process flow easily.”
Similarly, Operations Training Superintendent, Chigozie Mbanefo, noted that consistency, rather than intensity, is a key factor in Lean.
According to him, “when thinking about improvements, you don’t have to start with big steps. Little steps, when taken consistently, can amount to so much over time. It doesn’t have to be big to make a difference.”
Jensen explained: “It is a learning path, and takes time to change Lean culture in an environment where we also need to run a business. Once we learn how to plan, how to use Lean and execute Lean Kaizen, we will experience that the Lean methodology will improve our business and work-life balance. We see waste – and we remove it!”