LEAN for Leaders

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Events, News

On Thursday, May 9, 2024, the MEE Cluster, APEX Alberta and Medicine Hat College hosted the LEAN for Leaders event at the Medicine Hat Cultural Centre.

Business owners in the tech-industry were introduced to LEAN and the Manufacturing & Export Enhancement (MEE) Cluster, two resources that support owners in running their businesses efficiently, saving them time and money.

Bruce Ennis is a process improvement consultant and a LEAN Six Sigma master black belt, who’s been in the industry for 30 years. He spoke at the event and described LEAN as, “it’s not about the people, it’s about the process, and if you do LEAN right, morale goes up.”

Not only is time and money saved, but the improved processes allow for people to enjoy their work more, and naturally complete their tasks at a faster pace without working harder.

David Rist, who’s the program integration director for the MEE Cluster, says the Cluster is designed to build community and connect company owners to people like Ennis, to support their success in their industries.

“We work with manufacturers across Alberta, and focus specifically on helping them in terms of process improvement with automation, digital tools, and technology,” says Rist.

A program that’s offered is the LEAN Accelerator Program (LEAP), where MEE Cluster looks at business’ facilities and identifies all the different opportunities where processes can be improved using LEAN practices.

“We put together a comprehensive report for the owners afterwards, with short-term and long-term recommendations, and then the owners have the choice if they’d like to move forward or not,” says Rist.

Along with programs, Rist and his team host webinars, workshops, and work with other institutions like Medicine Hat College, Alberta-based post-secondaries, and regional innovation networks like APEX SE Alberta.

“Everybody is working together, so if APEX recognizes that there’s somebody in the community that needs support, they refer to us and we can work with them,” says Rist. “At events like this, we’re turning the light bulb on. Business owners see what we’re talking about today, and have the opportunity to engage with manufacturing experts.”

Matt Cornall, a technology development advisor with Alberta Innovates agrees that these in-person events are very important for the tech-innovation industry.

“Hands-on events and workshops like this are a really good way of making knowledge and resources accessible. It enables companies to see the simple activities other manufacturers have gone through, and potentially see themselves utilizing them for the benefit of their company,” says Cornall.

Cornall is based in Red Deer with a background in business and economic development. His work with Alberta Innovates includes finding small to medium sized entrepreneurs who are developing new and novel technology, and helping them through the commercialization journey.