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Lean Approaches to Concept Refinement Meetings

Posted by Brittany Beckmann on April 14, 2016

Over the past few decades, manufacturers worldwide have been implementing lean practices and processes for the improvement of their respective businesses. HUI understands the importance of lean principles, consequently integrating lean as one of its core work methods.In a previous blog, we discussed the concept process of any given medical cart project. In this post, we’ll discuss how HUI uses lean principles throughout that process, specifically its unique concept refinement sub-stage.


Lean Principles

As many manufacturers are aware, lean principles rely heavily on eliminating waste—waste in materials, time, money and so on. Over the duration of the concept stage, and all those that follow, communication has the biggest impact on waste elements.


Think about it. If the elemental person who makes executive decisions regarding medical cart design isn’t present during these meetings, how much time is wasted through miscommunication and anticipating what that person wants? A lot of information is conveyed during concept meetings, and engineers rely on definitive feedback and body language to create the best ultimate outcome. Over the years, HUI’s New Business Development (NBD) team has improved upon the idea of concept refinement and has adapted it for the best possible results by implementing lean principles.

Concept Refinement

Meeting One

This concept refinement sub-stage is divided into three meetings; all of which take place in one day. The first meeting is scheduled early in the morning at the customer’s location. This is where members of NBD team collaborate with everyone involved in finalizing project decisions. During this time, they discuss the concept generation samples. Typically, three to five different design concepts based on features and elements are presented and then mixed and matched—what works, doesn’t work or needs to happen.

Meeting Two

After this, the customer leaves for four hours. During this time NBD team concentrates on applying customer feedback into a single, cohesive final concept. This effectively takes an entire week’s worth of work and condenses it into four hours.

Meeting Three

Finally, the customer representatives come back for an afternoon meeting the same day to discuss the final concept HUI has provided. Obviously, this won’t be as polished as final concept that took 20 hours’ worth of time, but it’s good enough to give the customer a solid idea as to what their final product will look like.

More often than not, this method is effective: the customer is satisfied and a week’s worth of work was condensed into four hour—saving both time and money. This unique approach to concept refinement is but one example of how lean practices have benefited and evolved traditional processes.

Ready to get your medical cart concept underway? Contact us today!

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Topics: Medical Cart Development, Lean & Continuous Improvement

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