Colorman Ireland

Case Study 2 – Lean Time Management

Key Challenges

One of the key challenges for this Lean project identified by one of their employees was the Muller saddle stitch line.  They had an issue with excessive unnecessary lost production time on the stitch line.  In short, the areas of most concern were looking for work, pulling pallets and staff training. 

Firstly, the objective was to make a saving in unnecessary lost production time.  Then, the cost saving would be made by substituting unnecessary lost time with production time.  There was an average loss of 13.3% in production time (measured over 5 weeks).  This team member saw an opportunity to:

  • Reduce the amount of lost time to 4%.
  • Prevent excessive transportation of product.
  • Eliminate repeat communication.
  • Improve skill levels.
  • Reduce waiting times.

We are a big company with personal values.  Attention to detail, stringent brand control, on-time delivery and reliability are cornerstones of our service levels.

8-Step Problem-Solving Process

In trying to solve a particular problem, we advise using the 8-Step Problem-Solving Process:

  1. Problem
  2. Current State
  3. Target
  4. Root Cause Analysis
  5. Select Countermeasures
  6. Implementation
  7. Evaluation
  8. Standardisation & Learnings
Colorman Lean Project

Before 5S Implementation

After 5S Implementation

Key Actions

First of all, we worked with Colorman Ireland to set up a Kaizen event.  Everyone participated in brainstorming and ‘silent sharing’ of ideas.  Next, we collated and evaluated all ideas using the Impact/Ease Chart.  Some of the problems that arose from the Kaizen event included:

  • Excessive unnecessary lost time.
  • Unreliable schedules.
  • Not enough pallet trucks.
  • No allocation of pallet trucks.
  • Poor utilization of staff.
  • Poor workflow.

Subsequently, we recommended using the following Lean Tools:

  1. 5S
  2. Kanban
  3. SMED
  4. Standard Work

In addition, the implementation of 5S helped to define the first rules to eliminate waste and maintain an efficient, safe, and clean work environment.  The company used 5S to Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardise and Sustain.

Finally, the business implemented Kanban to prevent stock from running out, reduce inventory and decrease the time it took to change over spools.

Finally, the organisation used a 5 Step SMED Implementation:

  1. Observe the process.
  2. Identify internal and external elements.
  3. Identify internal elements that can be converted to external.
  4. Streamline internal.
  5. Streamline external.

By using Total Productive Maintenance, the company implemented an asset care ledger and log to predict and prevent downtime.

Colorman Kanban

Key Outcomes

  • Before this project, Colorman lost an average of 312 minutes over 5 weeks (13.3%).  Following completion of this project, this was reduced to 4.5%.
  • Staff training has been hugely successful.
  • They now have a dedicated Muller helper who has been upskilled in all requirements (line clearance, printing labels and dockets, location of all consumables and pre and post processes, good housekeeping practices in line with PM, customer specific requirements).


  1. Our project only represented one process.
  2. Initial plans were not as good as continuous improvements.
  3. Projects are impossible without teamwork and trust.
  4. Communication is vital to the process.
  5. Good housekeeping starts with you, in your area.
  6. Projects are a trial and error process.
  7. People, in general, are willing to help with your project.
  8. Some things are out of our control.
  9. One process is only a small part of a larger map.
Colorman picture of colours

We firmly believe that the expertise to develop business process improvements already exist in every organisation.  This has clearly been the case in Colorman Ireland.  Through their employees’ Lean projects, the company has made significant continuous improvements to their business.

ETAC has worked with Colorman Ireland to streamline their business and improve their processes.  We hope you enjoyed reading this case study on Lean Time Management.  You may be interested in reading the two other case studies featured here: Case Study 1 – Under/Over Production and Case Study 3 – Process Improvement.  All our case studies are available here.