Flexpipe Blog

Learn more about the Flexpipe system and its applications with our inspirational articles on continuous improvement, Kaizen Blitz, Lean Six Sigma, 5S and corporate social involvement.

A New Multi-Purpose Room for Atelier Majuscule

A New Multi-Purpose Room for Atelier Majuscule

We're pleased to share an inspiring project that came to fruition thanks to the collaboration between Flexpipe, Atelier Majuscule, and Architecture Sans Frontières Québec. This project highlights the importance of social reintegration through innovative community initiatives.


Much More Than Printing Services

Atelier Majuscule, formerly known as Imprime-Emploi, is a non-profit organization founded in 1996. The company's mission is to promote the socio-professional integration of people experiencing certain difficulties, by offering paid on-the-job training to enable them to acquire the skills they need to enter the job market and stay employed. Thanks to this mission, Atelier Majuscule provides high-quality printing services, while offering its employees a chance to reintegrate into society.


Multi-purpose room before redevelopment with Flexpipe's tube and joint system.


Redevelopment Project

The project involved refurbishing the multifunctional and computer room for employees in training at Atelier Majuscule. The main challenge was to reuse as much of the existing furniture as possible, giving it a new lease of life. This is where Flexpipe comes in, with its modular tube and connector joint solutions. These materials were used to create new high tables and benches, bringing renewed functionality and aesthetics to the space.


A Collaborative Achievement

Assembly of the new structures was carried out by ASFQ's project manager, assisted by a small team of dedicated volunteers and an experienced carpenter. This collaboration created a more welcoming and functional work environment for employees in training, reinforcing Atelier Majuscule's social mission.


Partnership with ASFQ

Architecture Sans Frontières Québec, through its Urban Solidarity program, provides professional design and architectural services to community organizations in the Montreal area. Operating on a cyclical basis, ASFQ is committed to supporting initiatives that promote social equity.


A Sustainable Impact

This project is a fine example of what can be achieved when various organizations join forces for the common good. Thanks to the joint contribution of Architecture Sans Frontières and Flexpipe, Atelier Majuscule now has a refurbished space that contributes not only to improving working conditions, but also to the social and professional reintegration of trainees.

We're proud to be involved in initiatives that make a real difference in our community. Flexpipe remains committed to supporting projects that combine innovation, sustainability and positive social impact.



Flexpipe is proud to announce the success of its charity market in support of the CAB Farnham. The event raised $3,140 to support many essential programs and services offered to the community.

Encouraging regional circular economy

Every year, Flexpipe organizes a family BBQ for its employees and their immediate families. Why not take the opportunity to support a local organization that supports community self-help through a charity market. Donations of household goods, mostly provided by company employees and a few community members, helped fuel the sale of second-hand items and foster the region's circular economy.

The voluntary sale ran from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and many visitors took advantage of the family activities on offer: inflatable games for young and old, BBQ, cotton candy and second-hand shopping. The Centre de réussite éducative pour enfants La-le-li graciously provided colorful face painting, creating a festive and convivial atmosphere.

Support local community

The mission of the Centre d'Action Bénévole of Farnham is to promote volunteerism and meet the needs of citizens through a variety of programs. The funds raised through this charity market will enable us to continue offering valuable support to seniors, individuals with disabilities, families in difficulty and all vulnerable people. The Farnham CAB serves over 200 families in a territory that includes Farnham, Sainte-Brigide-d'Iberville, Sainte-Sabine and Ange-Gardien.

Jean Valiquette, General Manager of the Farnham CAB, emphasized the importance of this initiative:

"The current socio-economic context is rather difficult and affects the entire population, including people in vulnerable situations and those on low incomes. The rising costs of food and basic necessities continue to rise, while disposable income is not keeping pace. For the CAB, this represents a 30% increase in demand, but a 40% decrease in what we're able to fetch."

Flexpipe would like to extend its warmest thanks to all the employees and citizens who contributed to the success of this event through their donations and active participation.

5S and Kaizen: real examples and tangible gains

5S and Kaizen: real examples and tangible gains

When manufacturers think of Kaizen, they think of the Toyota Production System (TPS). Kaizen is actually a combination of two Japanese words. The first portion of the word Kaizen – “kai” – translates to “change.” The second portion – “zen” – translates to good. Ultimately, Kaizen means “good change” and its principles like 5S allow manufacturers to adopt good changes that reduce costs and improve workspace efficiency.

So, what do Flexpipe’s steel tubes and joints have to do with Kaizen, 5S, and transforming workspaces?

Kaizen and 5S

A pillar of Kaizen philosophy, 5S defines a set of essential steps that manufacturers should take to ensure that workspaces are properly organized and efficient. 5S is the essential building block of how to design, construct, and position efficient workspaces so that delays are minimized, workflow is optimized, and waste is eliminated. 5S refers to Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. 

Sort: Determine what essential items, tools, and consumables are needed within the workspace. 

Set In Order: Ensure everything is properly identified, labeled, and has a designated place. 

Shine: Ensure the workspace is always clean and well-maintained.  

Standardize: Make your improvements standard across all workspaces. 

Sustain: Ensure workspaces are always efficient with 5S audits and inspections.   

To gain a more in-depth understanding of how 5S works, please go to 5S Guide – A Lean Manufacturing Tool.

The Flexpipe Solution and Workstation Efficiency

Flexpipe’s steel tube and joint system is a cut-to-length-and-assemble continuous improvement system that perfectly aligns with Kaizen and 5S principles. The steel tubes are high-strength cold-rolled, galvanized steel tubes covered with a protective polyethylene (PE) coating.  

Available in multiple colors and varying thicknesses, these steel pipes are assembled along with joints, rollers, casters, square pipes (base of large carts), decking, Kaizen foam, fasteners, and other accessories.

Flexpipe’s tube and joint system allows manufacturers to customize workspaces along the 5S philosophy. More importantly, Flexpipe’s solution allows them to adopt the never-ending continuous improvements required to continuously improve those workspaces by making minor adjustments – if needed.  

Flexpipe workspaces are modular and easily scalable. As a cut-to-length and snap-in-place system, Flexpipe allows manufacturers to make simple adjustments at a fraction of the costs and time compared to welded, permanent structures. 

Case Studies and Testimonials

The Kaizen mindset and 5S philosophy sound great, but are there any working examples of where Flexpipe’s tube and joint system have improved workstation efficiencies? Yes, there are. 

Aldes Canada Reduces the Cost of Its Workstations by 65% 

Founded in 1999, Aldes Canada has over 50 employees and manufactures residential and commercial products for ventilation and airflow. Over 85 percent of the company’s departments rely upon mobile Flexpipe workstations. Using Flexpipe, Aldes assembled over 125 upgraded modular workstations and realized an incredible 65 percent reduction in the cost for each workstation.

The Ideal Ergonomic Workstation

Here is a perfect example of an ergonomic workstation that Aldes Canada assembled using Flexpipe’s steel tube and joints. Before this workstation was assembled, production employees had to constantly raise their arms to lift and retrieve power drills – which caused a tremendous amount of strain. With Flexpipe, those power drills were secured overhead for easy retrieval.

Lower Costs and Improved Flexibility

The previous Aldes Canada workstations were custom-made welded structures that cost over $1,000.00. Flexpipe’s workstations aren’t welded. Flexpipe’s solution represented a 65 percent savings for Aldes Canada. With Flexpipe’s tube and joint system, employees can make whatever changes they need to their workstations within an afternoon or a day at a fraction of the costs. This simply isn’t possible with a welded structure.

5S Efficiency Optimized

Kaizen Teian and 5S require flexibility, which simply isn’t possible when workplaces are made from welded structures. The entire purpose of Kaizen Teian and 5S is to always improve things. That requires the ability to make changes as needed. That can easily be accomplished with Flexpipe’s steel tube and joint system – it simply can’t with welded, fixed workplace structures.

The Final Score Card for Aldes Canada Using Flexpipe

Safran Landing Systems Reduces the Costs of Its Workstations by 40%

Safran Landing Systems is one of the preeminent designers and manufacturers of aircraft landing systems and braking assemblies. A lean manufacturing adopter, Safran Landing Systems is constantly striving to improve and relies upon Flexpipe’s tube and joint system to reduce costs and improve the efficiencies of their workstations.

Over 600 workstations were assembled to help over 200 production employees. Currently, over 80 percent of the departments within this Safran location rely upon Flexipe in some form or another. Not only were their workstations more efficient, but they reduced the costs of their workstations by 40 percent.

Outdated, Heavy Welded Workstations

Unfortunately, this production location had far too many welded workbenches and workstations. Production managers and planners were unable to maximize the square footage of their production floor with these fixed welded structures. Parts and tools were strewn about and often misplaced.

Incredible Savings and Superior Flexibility

The older mobile workstations and cabinets were cumbersome, heavy, hard to move, and incredibly expensive at $1,130.00 each. Flexpipe’s solution was only $372.00 and the flexibility opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

The Final Score Card for Safran Landing Systems Using Flexpipe

Medicus Doubles Productivity Using Flexpipe

Medicu – an orthopedic company – designs, manufactures, and assembles a wide range of prosthetics and orthotics products. Needing a refreshed atmosphere, the manufacturer had older workstations assembled from wood and steel that were cumbersome, heavy, costly, and almost impossible to adjust or modify.

A more serious issue was how these workstations were organized and structured. It was common for critical tools and consumables to go missing at the most inopportune times. Assembly times were affected, and the movement and transit times of semi-finished parts and materials were simply too high.

A Perfect Example of 5S

Whereas everything was “dumped” on the older workstations and easily misplaced, the new Flexpipe workstations had clearly labeled locations for all tools and consumables. The Flexpipe structure was customized to fit a specific shadow board size so that all parts were neatly placed at the end of a given shift.

The Ideal Cut-to-Length-and-Assemble System

Just like an erector set, Flexpipe is a simple-to-use and extremely flexible cut-to-length-and-assemble system that provides manufacturers with the greatest possible flexibility and cost controls.

The Final Score Card for Medicus Using Flexpipe

Practical Implementation Tips

A hallmark of Flexpipe structures is the ease with which parts, tools, and consumables all have a place.

In every one of these situations, manufacturers decided to replace their welded or permanent workspaces, workbenches, and mobile cabinets with a modular and scalable Flexpipe solution. Not only were these welded structures extremely expensive, but they were fixed solutions with fixed dimensions and weights that could never be adjusted.

Not only were the existing welded structures hard to manage, but each of these manufacturers would have needed to purchase the same expensive welded structures to ensure uniformity across their shop floors. By switching to Flexpipe, each of these manufacturers can now customize their workspaces at a fraction of the costs compared to having welded structures.

When implementing Flexpipe, think about all the fixed/welded material handling structures throughout your manufacturing facility. Think about how much time and labor is involved in managing these large, welded structures and how much time is needed to move them. Next, itemize each of these welded structures and decide whether they’re essential to operations. Finally, think about how replacing them with Flexpipe can reduce costs.

The Flexpipe Crib: A Perfect Combination of Flexibility and Mobility

The ability to customize workspaces when needed provides manufacturers with numerous benefits. However, to ensure that any workspace can be optimized and adjusted, Flexpipe came up with the Flexpipe Crib. This mobile-optimized solution can easily be maneuvered to different locations on your production shop floor.

The Flexpipe Crib includes a mobile cutting station, a mobile shelf unit, and a mobile tube storage cart. This makes it ideal for situations where you need to adjust different workspaces in different locations. It’s also a great solution when looking to make larger changes to workspace structures when expanding your production capacity.

Designed with lean concepts in mind, the mobile cutting station has a platform for a saw, multiple storage shelves for fasteners, nuts, bolts, and other accessories, in addition to a drawer with Kaizen foam where all your tools neatly fit in place. The shelf unit easily stores various sizes and thicknesses of pipes while the main crib area opens to reveal two doors.


Fully Embracing Kaizen

To fully embrace Kaizen and 5S, managers, supervisors, and employees must always be thinking of ways to improve their workspaces. When production employees have this continuous improvement mindset, they’ll quickly bring up roadblocks, delays, and wasted time within their workspaces to their production managers or supervisors. This is especially the case if these issues are repeatable.

Even small, incremental improvements to your workspaces add up to big improvements over time. Once that momentum builds, efficiencies follow, processes are improved, and costs are reduced.

Flexpipe: The Ultimate Solution for Workspace Efficiency

The steel tube and joint system has been around – in one variation or another – for well over 70 years. Countless manufacturers across various industries have used the tube and joint system to create customized, 5S workspaces. For these companies, steel tubes and joints and lean manufacturing are one and the same.

To learn more about how Flexpipe has helped companies improve their workspaces, adopt lean manufacturing, and reduce costs, please go to our case studies.

Examples of Kaizen improvements in the factory - before and after

Examples of Kaizen improvements in the factory - before and after

Kaizen is a continuous improvement methodology incorporating multiple practical applications like 5S, value-stream mapping, fishbone diagrams, spaghetti diagrams, Pareto charts, control charts, and the Shewhart PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle. However, at its core, Kaizen is ultimately about fostering an environment where employees and management are motivated to improve where they work, how they work, and how work flows from one step to the next.   

Make enough small improvements, and your company will achieve substantial returns like stronger product quality, improved workflow, reduced waste, and increased efficiency. While this might all sound theoretical, there are real-world Kaizen examples where companies have transformed workspaces and achieved incredible results – and the tool they use is Flexpipe.

Workspace Efficiency and Flexpipe

Throughout its lifetime, your manufacturing business will most likely experience periods of rapid growth, followed by brief lulls before growing/expanding again. That continuous change requires an efficient workspace solution that can adjust and change as needed. This is exactly what the Flexpipe solution allows.  

Given that the very nature of Kaizen is continuous improvement – coupled with the fact that manufacturing is never static or stationary – a modular, low-cost, scalable solution is needed that allows your employees to design, assemble, and change workspaces/workstations as needed.  

These workspaces can’t be welded. They can’t be fixed structures and they can’t be haphazardly made with suspect materials like wood. These workspaces must be flexible, scalable, and comprised of durable, high-strength materials.   

The Flexpipe’s steel tube and joint system is like an erector set. It is a modular and scalable workspace solution that allows you to design, assemble, change, modify, and adjust workspaces. This increased flexibility is the perfect solution for lean manufacturing/Kaizen environments and their continuous improvement efforts.

Flexpipe in Action: Workspaces Before and After

There are multiple real-world examples of how companies/manufacturers have used Flexpipe to workspaces into extremely efficient, safer, and more functional workspaces. These new Flexpipe workspaces provide employees with increased flexibility, and ideal space, and eliminate wasted movements so often associated with poorly conceived and poorly designed workspaces.

In the example above, a large cabinet manufacturer – that had adopted lean manufacturing – decided it needed to improve its workspaces by doing away with its welded, heavy, and hard-to-navigate workbenches and workstations. By using the Flexpipe modular and scalable solution, this manufacturer created a much safer, more ergonomically friendly workspace which helped to reduce trips, falls, and stumbles.  

This new Flexpipe workspace allowed the manufacturer to increase their 5S score from 64 percent to 75 percent, representing a 17 percent improvement. They were also able to reduce the average distance traveled by employees within the workspace – for each unit assembled – from 180 feet to 18 feet, representing an astonishing 90 percent waste reduction. The operator no longer had to walk around the welded bench or bend over the side to get critical parts.

Another example of how a welded workbench and permanent shadow board did not allow the manufacturer to make any layout changes without incurring a substantial amount of wasted time and labor. This example comes from a corrugated packaging company that experienced high amounts of wasted time due to misplaced tools, consumables, and spare parts. 

By adopting 5S principles – and using Flexpipe’s steel tubes and joints – the company was able to create a mobile-capable workspace where every tool, consumable, and spare part had a proper place. A simple solution of incorporating Flexpipe casters in the design of this workstation eliminates all the wasted time and labor required to move the workbench. Whereas two people were needed before – one is needed now and without any strain involved.

The example above comes from a manufacturer of retail refrigerated merchandisers. At this manufacturing location, efficiency was seen as a critical requirement. Unfortunately, their workspaces were large, heavy structures that didn’t fully adopt the essentials of 5S. Parts and consumables went missing, work instructions and BOM were misplaced, and operators often retained critical tools that could be used by co-workers – as evidenced by the two hand-held cordless drills on the workbench.  

By using Flexpipe, this manufacturer designed a 5S workspace that was cleaner, more compact, easier to see, and had proper placement locations for parts, consumables (fasteners), and tools. Visibility increased substantially and critical parts and consumables were no longer stashed away in underutilized, hidden drawers. This represented huge savings in movement and time as employees always followed 5S end-of-day practices by putting everything away in its proper place.

Real-World Practical Tools for Kaizen Workshops

If you are a current practitioner of Kaizen and lean manufacturing – or are thinking of pursuing these continuous improvement methods – having a customized Kaizen Workshop ready and able to cut, assemble, and adjust your Flexpipe workspaces and workstation structures is an absolute must.  

Here are some examples of Flexpipe structures that Flexpipe and our customers use inside their Kaizen Workshops. Each of these structures has been built using Flexpipe’s steel tubes and joints.

Pipe Cutting Saw Station

Cutting pipe generally takes the longest when assembling your Flexpipe workspaces and workstation structures. As such, a well-designed and well-laid-out “pipe” cutting station is essential. It streamlines the cutting process and makes it easier for a single operator to lay out, measure, and cut the steel pipes.  

This pipe-cutting station above has two designated overhead storage areas to hold pipes so that the operator doesn’t have to leave the cutting station. The operator simply removes the pipes from one of the storage areas on either side of the miter saw. A shop vacuum is positioned beside this saw station so that the operator can ensure a clean and debris-free area at the end of their shift – which is a critical part of 5S.

In some cutting stations, customers choose to use a rigid pipe cutter (image above to the left) or a large bandsaw (image above to the right).

Mobile Pipe Kitting Carts

Mobile pipe-kitting carts are a great way to organize all your pipes in various lengths. These mobile carts are ideal for supplying new pipes for your pipe-cutting saw station, storing pipe that’s been cut but can still be used, or bringing new pipe to a workspace or workstation that needs minor adjustments.

Height-Adjustable and Mobile Worktable

A height-adjustable and mobile worktable gives your assembly team an ergonomic space where they can prepare and assemble pipe structures until those structures are ready to be placed on the floor. This height-adjustable worktable has Flexpipe’s casters so it can easily be maneuvered to different locations on your shop floor. 

A height-adjustable worktable is an ideal solution when assembling larger workstations or other large Flexpipe structures. The table can be adjusted up or down, depending on what’s needed. For example, a larger or taller structure can be lowered so that it’s easier to work on.

Assembly Tool Shadow Board Platform (Kaizen Foam)

Another Kaizen solution is the assembly tool shadow board platform above. This platform uses Flexpipe’s Kaizen Foam – a simple foam solution where employees can trace their tools onto the foam and then cut out that trace to ensure the tool is secured. The Kaizen Foam acts as a Poka-Yoke in that only the right-sized parts will fit in the foam cutouts.

Mobile PC Station

A mobile PC station with a large flatscreen is especially useful when building your Flexpipe workspace or workstation and relying upon digital assembly drawings. It can also be used by production employees for any complex integrated assemblies. Simply display the drawing on your screen near the assembly area for reference. Some customers, replace the PC with a simple display board with the printed assembly drawings on the board.

Mobile Support Carts

The small, mobile support cart above has storage locations for consumables and fasteners both on the main level and underneath level. In addition, an angled shadow board using Flexpipe’s Kaizen foam makes sure that tools are properly placed in the right area. This mobile support cart can quickly be moved into a given area to support employees when assembling or changing workspaces.

Flexpipe Crib - Part Storage Rack

It’s critical to have a designated assembly area for all your Flexpipe parts and that those parts be stored in that area. The Flexpipe Crib includes a mobile rack for consumable and part storage and a mobile cutting cart.  A good rule of thumb is to store all the highest moving parts at waist height for easy and immediate retrieval.

Flexpipe Steel Tubes and Joints: Your Ideal Kaizen Workspace Solution

Empowering your employees to be their best in a Kaizen environment so they reduce waste and make improvements requires giving them the tools they need to succeed. Those tools must be easy-to-use, simple, and straightforward and allow your employees to make a real difference.

Flexpipe is that all-important tool for workspace optimization and efficiency.

To learn how Flexpipe can help your manufacturing facility adopt Kaizen and lean manufacturing solutions that reduce the costs of each of your workspaces, contact us now.

Digital Lean for Process Optimization

Digital Lean for Process Optimization

Flexpipe embarks on a digital lean transformation, implementing just-in-time and "5-zero" principles to enhance operational efficiency and manufacturing sustainability.

Eliminating bureaucratic waste to streamline processes

Cumbersome bureaucratic procedures are now a thing of the past for Flexpipe. Initiating a digital shift in 2019 regarding the digitization of all administrative documents, the company has now moved on to digitizing assembly drawings, marking a new chapter for Flexpipe, combining innovation, profitability, and manufacturing sustainability.  

Reading of printed drawings by assemblers - Flexpipe 2019


The company's digital lean, distributing electronic tablets to assemblers for reading assembly drawings, particularly reflects its commitment to zero paper, a pillar of "just-in-time." By eliminating bureaucratic waste and printing costs totaling over $30,000 annually, the company takes a proactive approach to reducing lead times and enhancing productivity.

The integration of tablet computers underwent rigorous processes, involving key players and focusing on employee training and support to ensure a smooth transition to the new work tools. This approach aligns with the "zero defects" and "zero breakdowns" philosophy, aiming to detect anomalies early and maintain production process continuity.

Training and coaching employees to overcome reluctance to change


Flexpipe's growth and innovation showcase its ability to pursue operational excellence while integrating just-in-time principles. Lean methodologies create a significant competitive advantage, leading to doubled sales while maintaining the same workforce.

The company's commitment extends to achieving "zero delay" in operations, optimizing every manufacturing stage to reduce downtime and meet customer deadlines. This approach relies on meticulous production flow management, supported by seamless communication and effective digital tool utilization.

Sur la photo: Mathieu, directeur de la distribution, Benjamin, directeur général et Ian, directeur de production


Today's "paperless" objective necessitates a comprehensive process overhaul, encouraging the adoption of new, paperless methods. Rather than banning printing for paper enthusiasts, the emphasis is on transitioning to digital documents, eliminating previously associated superfluous steps. This concept remains relevant across all sectors, emphasizing the need to comprehend its principles and limitations. Achieving the "5 zeros" demands continual improvement commitment, evolving gradually rather than abruptly.

Hoshin Kanri for Lean Manufacturing: The Essential Strategic Planning Guide

Hoshin Kanri for Lean Manufacturing: The Essential Strategic Planning Guide

Lean manufacturing isn't just about cutting costs — it's a philosophy of continuous improvement and strategic planning that transforms the entire production process. Among the many lean tools, Hoshin Kanri stands out as a methodical approach to aligning company goals with practical, on-the-ground operations. This guide explores how manufacturing engineers can apply Hoshin Kanri to achieve operational excellence.

What is Hoshin Kanri?

Hoshin Kanri, originating from the Japanese business management system, is a strategic planning process that integrates Lean principles to ensure that every employee is working towards the same objectives. It translates to "direction management" or "policy deployment." By focusing on KPIs, cross-functional teamwork, and the PDCA cycle, Hoshin Kanri empowers engineers and managers alike to steer their teams toward common goals effectively.

The PDCA method or the Deming cycle

This disciplined approach involves several key steps:

Identifying Key Business Objectives: It starts with the vision of the company and breaks it down into clear, actionable steps. 

Developing Strategies for Goals: It involves devising strategies to achieve these objectives, often with the help of cross-functional teams. 

Implementing Action Plans: These strategies are translated into action plans, which are then carried out by employees at all levels of the organization. 

Reviewing and Adjusting: Regular reviews are essential to assess progress and make necessary adjustments.

Benefits for Manufacturing Engineers:

Manufacturing engineers who employ Hoshin Kanri can expect several tangible benefits:

Improved focus on value-added activities. 

Enhanced process efficiency and waste reduction. 

Better resource allocation and inventory management through JIT principles. 

Stronger alignment between management objectives and operational activities.

Planning and online Tools for Hoshin Kanri

The digital transformation of the manufacturing industry has introduced a suite of online tools tailored to support strategic planning and the Hoshin Kanri process. These tools offer a multitude of features that support the various stages of the Hoshin planning cycle, from conception to completion. Here's a curated list of tools that can facilitate each phase of your Hoshin plan: 

Trello: A visual tool that's perfect for monitoring the progress of Hoshin initiatives. 

Asana: Streamlines task assignment and tracking related to strategic actions. 

Monday.com: Offers templates for creating an X-Matrix, a fundamental Hoshin Kanri document. 

Smartsheet: Provides robust planning capabilities for complex strategic documents. 

i-nexus: Tailored for strategy execution, ensuring goal alignment and tracking. 

businessmap: Delivers advanced Kanban boards and analytics to support the Catchball process. 

Lucidchart: Ideal for process visualization, crucial for A3 reports and strategy mapping. 

Understanding the X-Matrix: The Planning Backbone of Hoshin Kanri

A cornerstone of Hoshin Kanri is the X-Matrix, a comprehensive planning matrix that visually maps out the strategic plan, aligning long-term goals with tactics, metrics, and responsible parties. This tool is invaluable for ensuring transparency and coherence in your strategy. This kind of tool facilitate the creation and tracking of the X-Matrix, allowing teams to see how their efforts contribute to overarching company objectives in real time. By leveraging such platforms, engineers and managers gain a birds-eye view of their strategy's execution, ensuring that all actions are purpose-driven and results-oriented.

[cta id="51920"]

Leveraging Online Tools for Strategic Planning

Incorporating these online tools into your Hoshin Kanri strategy can yield transformative results. 

Ensure Alignment: Use the tools to align individual and team activities with strategic objectives. 

Foster Collaboration: Enhance collaboration across departments by providing a common platform for sharing progress and feedback. 

Monitor Performance: Keep track of performance metrics to ensure strategic outcomes are being met. 

Hoshin Kanri is a powerful lean methodology that, when supported by the right set of online tools, can help manufacturing engineers and organizations ensure that every team member is working towards the same goals. By integrating these tools into your Hoshin Kanri framework, your team can work more efficiently, adapt to changes quickly, and achieve strategic objectives with greater precision. 

We're eager to hear about your experiences with Hoshin Kanri and these online tools. Leave a comment below to join the conversation and help others in the lean manufacturing community find the best strategies for success.

Working Together Towards Inclusive Excellence

Working Together Towards Inclusive Excellence

Flexpipe's growing order backlog forced it to look for a reliable partner to assemble 70 flowracks. The natural choice was Groupe AFFI, an NPO dedicated to the employment and professional development of people with functional limitations.

In an ever-changing business world, where strategic collaborations can be the key to success, Flexpipe and Groupe AFFI recently joined forces for a promising collaboration. In addition to respecting the values of continuous improvement and social inclusion, this collaboration demonstrated the versatility of the Groupe AFFI and proved that performance knows no bounds!   

Faced with growing demand and an expanding order book, Flexpipe sought a reliable partner to meet its production needs. Continuous improvement is an integral part of who we are and what we do. We focus on a safe and healthy work environment, skills development, and innovation. Our mission of social involvement is collaborative and inclusive, to establish a dynamic and growing collective network. We naturally chose the Groupe AFFI, a subcontractor who shares our values.  

At Flexpipe, continuous improvement is not limited to product or service quality. It also extends to the company's ethics, its social impact, and its ability to collaborate with other organizations sharing similar values. Flexpipe has always believed in a dynamic and inclusive economy, where collaboration is synonymous with ambition.

Groupe AFFI: An inclusive vision

Groupe AFFI stands out as a Non-Profit Organization (NPO) dedicated to the employment and professional development of people with functional limitations. Its mission is built around values such as human respect, excellence, flexibility, and self-improvement. Groupe AFFI offers subcontracting services by hiring staff with functional limitations, where diversified services are provided reliably and efficiently for small and large mandates. The promise of performance goes hand in hand with social commitment. With a dedicated team of 650 members, the majority of whom have functional limitations, Groupe AFFI is positioned as a key player in the food, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and consumer retail sectors.

Training and human development

One of Groupe AFFI's strengths lies in its commitment to ongoing employee training. From French to mathematics, social skills to finance, a variety of training courses are offered, enabling employees to develop their skills and realize their full potential.

When excellence rhymes with innovation and adaptability

The mandate entrusted to Groupe AFFI was an ambitious one: to assemble over 70 flowracks in just 3 weeks. Thanks to a dedicated team and a methodical approach, Groupe AFFI not only met the challenge, but also exceeded expectations, completing the mandate in just 2 weeks.

Groupe AFFI demonstrated its expertise and commitment to excellence. They demonstrated remarkable adaptability, creating ingenious templates to ensure quality and conformity between the assembled flowracks. It took just 2 or 3 days to increase the production rate and assemble 18 racks a day instead of 10.

"Since many employees don't have the skills to read a tape measure, these templates are used to ensure that the distance between connector joints is always the same from one rack to the next."
Explains Kateryna, Supervisor at Groupe AFFI.

By considering the limitations of certain employees, tailor-made solutions were developed, illustrating the spirit of innovation and inclusion that characterizes Groupe AFFI.

Flexpipe provided detailed drawings, a model flowrack and all pre-cut and identified parts to facilitate the task, which was greatly appreciated by the supervisors at Groupe AFFI. They then analyzed and deconstructed each assembly step as a separate task on several assembly line stations. Each assembly station was then clearly color-coded, making it easier to assemble each part of the rack.

"Teamwork takes on its full meaning, it's as if our products were theirs!"
Affirms Benjamin Ricard, General Manager at Flexpipe.

The supervisors were very attentive to the employees and their limitations, showing respect and flexibility. Unlike the projects they are used to doing, the one proposed by Flexpipe was quite diversified and included a physical task portion. All agreed that it was an enjoyable and different project to do!

Heijunka: A Comprehensive Guide to Leveling Production

Heijunka: A Comprehensive Guide to Leveling Production

In the manufacturing realm, optimizing for efficiency while meeting ever-evolving market demands is critical. Enter Heijunka, a Japanese technique of "leveling production". Renowned as the backbone of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and the foundation of Lean methodology, Heijunka serves as a beacon for operational excellence.

Understanding Heijunka

Toyota Motor Corporation designed their production system to deliver superior quality, optimal cost, and minimized lead time by eradicating waste. The foundation of TPS rests on two main tenets: just-in-time and jidoka. This concept is frequently depicted with the "house" illustration.

Heijunka, pronounced "hey-june-kuh", is more than just leveling production; it represents a philosophy to combat waste, align production with actual demand, and ultimately, streamline operations. Originating as an essential pillar of the TPS, Heijunka's inception was aimed at addressing the unpredictabilities and inefficiencies resulting from erratic production schedules and fluctuating customer demands. 

By integrating the principles of Heijunka, manufacturers are empowered to craft a balanced and rhythmic production cadence. This harmonized approach reduces lead times, ensures high-quality output, and optimizes resource allocation, thus bolstering overall operational efficiency.

Principles of Heijunka

The Heijunka is the solution to the Mura problematic.

Demand Smoothing: Central to Heijunka is the principle of demand smoothing, ensuring production orders are evenly spaced, mitigating the risks of abrupt demand fluctuations. It addresses challenges like overproduction during demand peaks or resource underutilization during lulls. 

Mixed-Model Production: Unlike traditional manufacturing that emphasizes large batches of a single product, Heijunka promotes mixed-model production. It's a holistic approach, producing varied products in small batches, aligning with changing customer preferences without accumulating unnecessary inventory.

Through Heijunka, the goal is to combat inefficiencies born from inconsistent production times.

Takt Time Integration: Central to Lean methodology, takt time — the rate at which a product must be produced to meet customer demand — is interwoven into Heijunka. This synchronization ensures that manufacturing processes are consistently paced and optimized.

Benefits of Heijunka

When implemented properly, the system ensures consistency by balancing demand, adaptability by reducing the time it takes to switch tasks, and steadiness by maintaining a consistent production volume and variety over an extended period.

Waste Reduction: Heijunka's strategic distribution of production orders significantly trims waste. This includes overstock, overproduction, and the mismanagement of resources. By eliminating these inefficiencies, businesses can realize cost savings and enhanced resource stewardship. 

Enhanced Flexibility: The mixed-model production championed by Heijunka enables manufacturers to rapidly pivot in response to market shifts or evolving customer preferences. This dynamism ensures production remains in sync with real-time demand. 

Employee Empowerment: A predictable Heijunka-driven rhythm reduces the chaos and stress stemming from sudden production shifts, fostering a healthier, more engaged workspace.

Implementing Heijunka with the Kanban System

A successful Heijunka implementation can be further enhanced with the integration of the Kanban system, a visualization tool to improve workflow and manage work-in-progress. 

Demand Forecasting: Start by analyzing past demand trends and market trajectories to craft an accurate production roadmap.

This table represents a mass producer (without Heijunka)

Standardized Work: Create consistent work procedures. This uniformity ensures tasks are executed uniformly, promoting a consistent production flow. 

Kanban System Integration: Meld the Kanban system for material resupply. It complements Heijunka by ensuring the smooth flow of materials and matching production rhythm. Kanban visualizes the workflow, makes policies explicit, and fosters continuous improvement — all aligned with Heijunka's goals.

Lean manufacturers who embraced the concept of balancing both volume and variety required an efficient scheduling system to manage production.

Collaboration and Communication: Foster effective intra-departmental communication. This synchronization is key to aligning production plans and swiftly responding to any changes.

In our rapidly evolving manufacturing landscape, Heijunka stands out as a robust tool for optimizing production workflows. Combined with the Kanban system, this synergy offers unparalleled potential to transform manufacturing practices. As businesses worldwide strive for operational excellence, Heijunka and Kanban might be the duo driving them to new efficiency frontiers.

Flexpipe plants 5 trees to compensate its employees' carbon footprint

Flexpipe plants 5 trees to compensate its employees' carbon footprint

During the week of September 18 to 22, Flexpipe employees joined forces to promote carpooling and mobile travel while reducing their carbon footprint. The impressive results of this initiative led to the planting of 5 trees, symbolizing their commitment to the environment.


534 kilometers saved
During the week of the challenge, the company's employees managed to accumulate a remarkable saving of 534 kilometers in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This activity was made possible thanks to the commitment of employees, who chose to carpool and prefer active transport such as cycling or walking to get to work. Their determination demonstrated that simple actions can have a significant positive impact on the environment.


A concrete measure to compensate the environmental impact of their journey
Flexpipe has committed to planting the number of trees equivalent to the CO2 generated by participating employees who were unable to carpool or commute during the period in question. This means that 0.726 tonnes of CO2 will be offset by the planting of 5 trees on company premises. The employees have requested that these trees be fruit trees, so that they can enjoy the fruits of their efforts year after year.


A symbol for the Farnham community
The planting of the 5 fruit trees symbolizes another step towards a greener, more sustainable future, not only for the company, but also for the Farnham community. It's an example of how collective action on behalf of the environment can make a significant difference.

Flexpipe is proud to support this initiative and to recognize its employees' efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. This initiative demonstrates the importance of commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility within the company.