Lean Manufacturing Management Training Work Processes Workforce

Develop An Operational Excellence Program

EP Editorial Staff | March 12, 2020

By Jon Sillerud, Uponor North America

According to the Institute for Operational Excellence, North Kingstown, RI (instituteopex.org), OpEx incorporates continuous improvement into a holistic approach in which “each and every employee can see the flow of value to the customer and fix that flow before it breaks down.” The result is business growth and long-term viability.

One way to accomplish this is to use the House of Lean structure, which you “construct” based upon your organization’s culture and goals. The house pillars focus on problem-solving initiatives, while the tools, visual management, metrics, assessments, and processes constitute the windows, which help you monitor progress. The roof is satisfied customers, supported by safety, quality, delivery, cost, and engagement. After you’ve built your house and created a visual, employ three key tactics to keep employees aware, engaged, and aligned with the plan and program.

A House of Lean visual helps all involved understand the underlying structure of an operational excellence program.


A solid training program is paramount when creating an effective OpEx program. Without training, the program has no foundation or measurement for success. Our OpEx training follows a four-tiered approach in which new employees begin with a one-hour continuous-improvement overview. They progress to our bronze and silver levels before advancing into focused areas that leverage individual skills. This structured design provides employees with a clear roadmap for their training journey and provides them with incentives for continued growth.


Throughout our manufacturing floor, we have numerous boards that showcase the status of various operations metrics, along with new ideas and resources to help address them. Each day, leaders from engineering, maintenance, manufacturing, quality, safety, and training departments meet at a different board for 15 minutes to discuss the status and any updates. Those visual boards and daily check-ins keep the lines of communication open and continuous improvement in motion. They also provide every employee the benefit of seeing what’s going on in and around their departments.


The key to an engaged company culture is ensuring employees have a seat at the table. This means empowering them to make change and improvements where they see an opportunity. We have a continuous-improvement board where employees submit suggestions to improve efficiency, safety, delivery, and/or cost containment. In the past, employees have directly contributed approximately 2,000 ideas annually.

Whether you’re a company of a dozen or several thousand, a structured OpEx program can benefit any team. The important point is to get started on a path that will begin with strategy and continue through to action and implementation. EP

Jon Sillerud is Vice President, Operations, for Uponor North America, Apple Valley, MN (uponor.com). Reach him at jon.sillerud@uponor.com.

For more about workforce development strategies and techniques, watch our new webinar, presented by Jon Sillerud. You can view the presentation at efficientplantmag.com/2001uponor.



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