Lily O'Brien

Using Problem Solving to Cut Production Set-up Time by 66%

Lily O'Brien

Lily O’Brien has been producing its award-winning confectionery in Kildare, since 1992 – when Mary Anne O’Brien began making chocolates in the kitchen of her home. Today, the company employs 120 people at its Newbridge plant and generates revenues in excess of €30 million. The company wanted to look at reducing its operational costs at the same time as improving product quality. With this in mind, LBS Partners was brought in to the company by the Operations Manager, to support him in driving the adoption of Lean (Green Belts projects within the Skillsnet programme) within the company.


To reach the identified goals, the challenge was to promote Lean Thinking, structured Problem Solving and Continuous Improvement across the organisation. We were fortunate to have the full support of the Operations Manager – which contributed significantly to the programme’s success.

With a focus on reduction of set-up times, and elimination of wasteful activity within processes – a number of approaches were employed, including standardisation and process mapping. Staff involved in implementing the projects enthusiastically embraced the Lean philosophy – using the learnings from the Green Belt course to great effect.


Project A: Set-up timeCut from 103 minutes to 35 minutes – a 66% reduction.
Project B: In-line set-up/cleaningA saving of 30 minutes of production time/day on one production line
Project C: Set-up timeReduced by 78%
Project D: Cost-per-kiloReduced by 5% on product 1
Project E: Labour cost Reduced by 12% on product 2
Warehouse: Unplanned picksReduced by 100%
Sales process: Internal issue solvingReduced by 80%
Sales process: Cost-savingConservative estimation of €100,000

In addition to the financial savings that the projects delivered (which were sustainable and significantly greater than the training costs), the team themselves learned a lot about Lean thinking and how to recognise and tackle waste


Eamonn Redmond, Operations Manager, Lily O’Briens

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