First International LEAN Conference in Bulgaria


21 October 2015, Balkan Hotel Sofia

On Wednesday (October 21st) over 140 representatives of various Bulgarian and foreign companies exchanged experience and ideas with leading international LEAN experts on improving of various Bulgarian and foreign companies exchanged experience and ideas with leading international LEAN experts on improving competitiveness by increasing productivity and improving operational efficiency in their companies.

The First International LEAN Conference in Bulgaria started on October 19th (Monday) with a visit to the Yazaki Bulgaria production base in Yambol. Over 40 business representatives from Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia and other countries had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the LEAN practices that Yazaki – the manufacturers of wiring systems for Renault and Ford automobiles and leader in global deliveries of automotive equipment – have implemented at their Yambol-based factory.

Following the schedule of the First International LEAN Conference in Bulgaria, the next day (October 20th) started with a visit to the Liebherr-Hausgerate Maritza production base in Plovdiv, where participants in the conference learned more about the benefits of applying LEAN practices and the positive effects that Liebherr experienced in production quality and employee motivation. Managers of the Plovdiv-based factory that manufactures high-quality refrigerators and coolers for businesses and households presented the methodologies that they use, and demonstrated how they work in practice on the factory floor.

On the 21st of October, the International LEAN Conference gathered more than 140 participants at the Sofia Hotel Balkan. His Excellence Takashi Koizumi, Ambassador of the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Bulgaria, was a special guest of the event.

The conference, organized by the leading Bulgarian business consulting company - Next Consult, in association with PPORF Development Institute Inc., Japan and Organisation Development International (ODI), South Africa, was also a part of the „Days of Japanese Culture in Bulgaria“ and was realized with the support of the Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Bulgaria, JICA Alumni Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Industrial Association.

Managers of successful Bulgarian companies from various industries, as well as international organizations, had a chance to familiarize themselves with the best management practices in the area of LEAN, and with the use of different operational principles, tools and techniques which help businesses achieve higher productivity, better quality, improved employee skills and motivation, higher customer satisfaction and many other benefits.

The event took place with the support of Dr. Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, son of the creator of the Japanese LEAN Methodology 20 Keys® and current president of PPORF Development Institute Inc. 20 Keys® is a managerial system which improves a company’s processes, focusing on 20 key business aspects with an aim to improve quality, cost efficiency and production operations. It is based on the Kaizen ideology for transforming corporate culture from the lowest to the highest hierarchical level, and is successfully implemented in over 700 companies worldwide.

Among the speakers were Toshko Petkov (Partner, Business Consulting at Next Consult), who has assisted many Bulgarian and international companies to become more effective and successful at what they do; Johan Benadie (Managing Director of ODI, South Africa), who has vast experience in developing strategies for improving quality and productivity in many manufacturing companies; Zarko Jakovljevic (Director, Epitychia d.o.o, Croatia), who, throughout the years has successfully implemented 20 Keys® methodology and the principles of Kaizen in both local and multinational organizations; Yury Samoylov (General Director, Business Excellence Ltd., Russia), who has assisted numerous Russian factories from various industries to optimize their costs, improve quality, successfully develop their business and efficiently manage their processes and human resources; and Wolfgang Forster (Board member, Lindau Institute, Germany), who has been applying the 20 Keys® methodology for over 10 years as one of the most efficient systems for continuous development in various international companies around Europe, such as Siemens, Grammer, SCA and others.

The speakers presented examples of the results from the implementation of LEAN in companies from different industries, sizes and locations. They also pointed out the benefits that businesses can expect from using the LEAN philosophy as an approach to effectively manage their operations and employees.

Foreign speakers, as well as managers of the production plants that were visited during the week, took part in the discussion panel. Representatives of the already visited Yazaki Bulgaria and Liebherr-Hausgerate Maritza factories told the audience more about the visits made by the participants in the Study Missions for exchange of experience and about the practices that they presented, while managers from Sensata Technologies Bulgaria and Festo Production, who are the next “stops” on the Study Missions organized by Next Consult, discussed good LEAN practices and solutions that they have implemented with an aim to optimize production processes, and shared their positive impressions from the First International LEAN Conference in Bulgaria so far and the upcoming visits to their production bases on October 22nd and 23rd 2015.

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