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Businesses share the learning at BALT forum in Launceston

On the first day of September this year, BALT hosted a public forum at the Tramsheds in Launceston to share the achievements and future aspirations of the group, including a reunion of past and present BALT project team members, their project champions and senior management.

Since 2010, twenty BALT projects have been completed, or are currently underway, involving some sixteen companies across the state and Andrew Thompson, site manager at Orora Fibre Packaging and Chair of the BALT Coordinating Team, welcomed the assembled BALT cohort and guests from a range of industry and government sectors.

BALT participants, past and present, gathered together with guests from a diverse range of industries at the Tramsheds in Launceston. Image courtesy Rob Burnett Images
BALT participants, past and present, gathered together with guests from a diverse range of industries at the Tramsheds in Launceston. Image courtesy Rob Burnett Images

The forum focussed on the need for companies to get more competitive in the global context and Sharron Yaxley from the Department of State Growth presented the state government’s recently released Advanced Manufacturing Action Plan.

There were a number of representatives from outside the manufacturing industry, including the forestry industry, local government and community services. Although BALT has emerged from the manufacturing industry, the concepts of collaboration and action learning could work in any industry. BALT is undertaking a Workforce Development Project, with funding from the Skills Tasmania Workforce Development Program, and has resources available to assist other industries to get in on the action.

In his opening remarks, Andrew Thompson emphasised that the fundamental need to remove waste and add value is universal within and across any industry sector and the best way to achieve sustainable improvement is to work together and learn from each other.

Mike McGee from Skills Tasmania presented recent graduates of the Lean Action Learning program from Kempe Engineering, Bell Bay Aluminium, Tasmanian Alkaloids and Direct Edge Manufacturing with a range of qualifications in Competitive Systems and Practices.

Mike McGee of Skills Tasmania presented recent graduate of Lean Action Learning, Tom Frain of Kempe Engineering, with a Certificate IV in Competitive Systems and Practices. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images
Mike McGee of Skills Tasmania presented recent graduate of Lean Action Learning, Tom Frain of Kempe Engineering, with a Certificate IV in Competitive Systems and Practices. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images

Following on, Genevieve Cother from The Action Learning Institute explained how the action learning process works and how to register via the new BALT website. Bill Woodworth from Bell Bay Aluminium explained how this approach has been used to find shared business benefits across Bell Bay Aluminium’s supply chain. Les Souster from Just Lean Associates, formerly of James Boag & Son, talked about how the action learning approach can enhance existing improvement systems or kickstart a new one. Roxanne Chugg from Excellent Outcomes then spoke more specifically about her experience applying Lean in the context of a service industry.

Bill Woodworth explained how Bell Bay Aluminium applies the BALT program to remove waste from its supply chain. Image courtesy Rob Burnett Images
Bill Woodworth explained how Bell Bay Aluminium applies the BALT program to remove waste from its supply chain. Image courtesy Rob Burnett Images

A highlight of the event was the first-hand experiences related by past project team member, Peter Wilkins from Tasmanian Alkaloids, and Project Champion, Jon Drew from TasRail, who presented brief overviews of the projects conducted at their companies.

Peter Wilkins of Tasmanian Alkaloids presented a case study of his Lean Action Learning project. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images
Peter Wilkins of Tasmanian Alkaloids presented a case study of his Lean Action Learning project. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images

The BALT Action Learning Exchange, an initiative of the BALT Workforce Development project, was introduced and attendees were invited to provide input into this innovative concept. The Exchange will provide a formal structure to support and strengthen the relationships established between companies through action learning activities.

The event culminated with some great networking over Boags beers, Tasmanian Bakeries pies and Petuna Seafoods salmon sushi. An exhibition of projects completed to date was on display throughout the event and participants were available to answer questions about their experiences with action learning.

Marcel Fillion of Petuna Seafoods, Robyn Lapthorne of TasRail and Tom Frain of Kempe Engineering. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images
Marcel Fillion of Petuna Seafoods, Robyn Lapthorne of TasRail and Tom Frain of Kempe Engineering. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images
Brendan Sherriff of Bell Bay Aluminium and Bob Cother of the Action Learning Institute. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images
Brendan Sherriff of Bell Bay Aluminium and Bob Cother of the Action Learning Institute. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images
Matt Patten of TasRail and Genevieve Cother of the Action Learning Institute. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images
Matt Patten of TasRail and Genevieve Cother of the Action Learning Institute. Image courtesy of Rob Burnett Images

Students from the Screen and Media program at TasTAFE, Brittany Cook and Chris Cooke filmed the event. Brittany and her colleagues from TAFE have also filmed a series of short videos of past project team members recently published on the BALT Youtube Channel and the footage taken will be published in the coming weeks.

The Launceston forum will be followed by a similar event at the Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in Burnie on Thursday 15 September and the BALT Coordinating Team encourages anyone interested in learning more about the action learning process and the BALT network to register on the Eventbrite page. Future events will be posted on the BALT website events page.

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