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Lean Manufacturing tackled by UQ Student

Cable Laying Products has recently recruited the skills of University of Queensland Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student, Mike McCulloch, via CEED to assist the company formalise their manufacturing systems and improve efficiency. 

Cable Laying Products (CLP) manufactures and distributes specialised tools and equipment used for installing electrical and communications cable either overhead or underground.  Products are sold throughout Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific and CLP also has the exclusive agency for the region to represent one hi tech equipment manufacturer from Europe.

Mike McCulloch (CEED student) with his supervisor at Cable Laying Products 
 Mike McCulloch (CEED student) on the left, with his supervisor,
 Mick Lissemore at Cable Laying Products

The company approached CEED with a project requiring assistance to implement ‘Lean’ and 5S processes into the factory and to establish an accurate cost control system.  

The student’s company supervisor, Mick Lissemore said that addressing efficiency is still one of the most important and critical factors in manufacturing processes.

The focus of Lean Manufacturing is to identify and eliminate waste: Waste is any activity that consumes time, resources, or space but does not add any value to the product or service.  Elimination of these wastes can significantly improve the productivity of a company, and contribute to increased product quality and customer satisfaction,” said Mick.

He said that CEED student Mike McCulloch will be specifically working on establishing a structured process and register for renewing and verifying Bills of Material (BOMs) and corresponding drawings over the next three months of the project.  

The BOMs are stored in a proprietary, Windows based software platform, so for this project the company was looking for a student with an interest in lean manufacturing and competent user of software packages. 

Throughout the project, Mike will gain additional experience using specialised manufacturing systems, business management tools, as well as 2D and 3D CAD software

Benefits of Mike’s project to CLP include:

  • Standardised processes for BOMs, drawings and auditing processes
  • Improved accuracy and completeness of documentation for current CLP stock items - so that any staff member (current and new) can easily understand
  • Improved efficiency in production processes, item tracking capability and costing models

At the end of Mike’s project (due in November 2010), CLP will then communicate with staff about changes made to their processes and systems, resulting from the project.



There are seven recognised types of manufacturing waste:

1. Transport (unnecessary movement of materials)
2. Inventory (excess inventory not directly required for current orders)
3. Motion (extra steps taken by employees because of inefficient layout)
4. Waiting (periods of inactivity)
5. Overproduction (occurs when production should have stopped)
6. Over Processing (rework and reprocessing)
7. Defects (do not conform to specifications or expectations)


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