Manufacturing News

Cochlear discusses lean manufacturing processes

Cochlear has discussed its new, lean manufacturing manufacturing processes, and its hearing hub at Macquarie University.

In an interview with The Australian’s Financial Review’s Boss, the three-decade-old company discussed its development of new procedures iinvolving teams of multi-skilled workers, each cross-trained to perform multiple steps in the manufacturing process.

“We have in place a simple plan of do, check and act that’s been used in manufacturing forever,” manufacturing vice-president Dig Howitt told Boss.

“Each team has a plan and their ‘do’ is the work instructions, the ‘check’ is the dashboards, which show the output and yield, and the ‘action is how do you improve.’”

The CEO of Cochlear – which exports four-fifths of its product – Chris Roberts detailed the development of the innovation hub at Macquarie and the company’s move from Lane Cove.

“We will have something like 2500 people co-located in these several buildings working on all aspects of hearing from basic research to clinical services,” he said.

“We want to make sure we not only see ourselves as a knowledge-based business but are truly connected to leading research and thinking… In many ways, we are behaving like a 30-year-old start-up.”

Also detailed in the article were the difficulties of the company’s product recall, its industrial relations issues with Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, and the recent AGM, which saw a “first strike” vote by shareholders against Cochlear’s executive remuneration report.

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