Dublin Lean Network News

Culture & the Shingo Journey

By June 28, 2022 No Comments

The event

This month’s company visit was with Tosara Pharma Ltd, part of Teva Pharmaceuticals.  Teva Pharmaceuticals is a global pharmaceutical organisation with a daily customer base of 200 million people. It employs 800 people in Ireland, with three facilities in the Republic (Baldoyle, Swords, and Waterford) and one in Northern Ireland (Larne).  Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream is manufactured in Ireland since its humble beginnings in 1931.

Our speaker was Richard Burke MBS / Six Sigma Black Belt.  His current role is Production Specialist / OPEX Site Manager at Tosara Pharma, and has over 30 years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry.

Introduction to Tosara Pharma Ltd

By way of background, Richard began by saying that the manufacturing operation was set up in 1984, and is located in Baldoyle on the north side of Dublin.

Their headcount is currently at 120 full time employees working on a 24 hour shift pattern. Their output last year was approximately 37 million units. The plant has five lines for the filling and packaging of jars and tubes.

In addition, they are currently operating on a three cycle shift over 24 hours a day, five days a week. Richard added that this was one of the most engaging and rewarding projects that he worked on particularly when they achieved such positive outcomes.

By speaking at the Dublin Lean Network, he wanted to help organisations understand the roadmap Tosara Pharma travelled to achieve their unique lean culture, improved business performance, increased market share, and becoming a learning organisation using the tools and techniques of lean.

The Beginning of their Journey

Michael Bizzell, General Manager of Tosara Pharma Ltd, started by saying that when they began this journey in 2009, they had a very different culture within the organisation. However, with the support of so many people – the Shingo Institute, Eilish Henry, Noel Hennessey and Steve Halpin – they managed to introduce so many changes within the organisation.
Culture, Operational Excellence, Enterprise Alignment, and Results are all part of the Shingo Model ®.  Richard explained that they achieved Shingo accreditation as a result of hard work and team commitment.
In 2009, they went from a traditional manufacturing company where everything was chaotic to being awarded the Shingo Prize in 2018.

The Shingo Model ®

Michael added that once they got to a stage where their markets were growing and the business was expanding, they needed to become more agile and adaptable to meeting their increased customer demand.  Next, Richard went onto say that they looked at the Toyota Production System (TPS), but focused more on the dimensions described within the Shingo Model when looking at developing their ideal transformation.  Certainly, he said the Shingo Model ® is a very structured approach, however ideally it is up to individual organisation to set key strategic goals and objectives. It’s important to understand the current conditions, identifying bottlenecks and constraints, developing their vision and mission statements, thereby setting the direction in which the company needs to go.
The success of any organisation is building the correct culture where every employee feels energisied, valued and committed to bring about change, “Leading with Humility” and showing “Respect for every Individual” are key values in this regard. These principles are the foundations of the Shingo Model®. Obviously, developing the right culture, which takes time to establish, leads to an organisation where everyone focuses on continuous improvement. This allows the business to create consistency of purpose, where everybody thinks systematically, and focuses on achieving the desired results.
Richard continued that it was great timing for them in 2009, because they were expanding from the Irish and UK markets into Europe and further afield. At that time, they thought that it would be a very to implement, and very easy to follow. But in reality, it would be difficult to change the traditional manufacturing process to one of learning and continuous improvement. Furthermore, ongoing reviews of their effectiveness through their employee engagement surveys led them to recognise that they needed to focus not only on results, but on the behaviours and principles that achieved these results.
In fact, they realised that a culture of operational excellence could only be sustained by adopting the universally accepted principles described within the model.

Quality Policy

First in 2009, they embarked on a journey of continuous improvements in their operational departments by employing lean manufacturing tools.  These included 5S, Kaizen, Kanban, OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness), and Value Stream Mapping. As part of their journey, they created a quality policy across their entire supply chain.  The objective of this quality policy is to complete work right first time.
Next, they transformed the performance of Tosara Pharma in line with the concepts of cultural enablers, continuous process improvement, enterprise alignment and results. The Shingo model, their quality improvement plan, and strategic investments all played a key element in the success of this programme.

Environmental Health & Safety (EHS)

Secondly, they focused their efforts on promoting health and safety across the site, thereby showing respect for all employees. Their commitment to every employee has been essential in their quest to ensure a safer working environment for all. Richard explained that they communicate safety teach points and Safety moments at the start of every team meeting. This helps build trust and awareness for the safety of all their employees on a daily basis. It also ensures that any potential risks to safety are minimised, with good open and transparent communication on a daily basis. To date Tosara Pharma Ltd is an injury free site over the last 5 years.
Changing the culture was enabled by adopting a set of behaviours that guide all their interactions with each other. These behaviours have been incorporated into their employee reward and recognition programme. Richard added that this is really important, because it sets the tone within the organisation.  For example, if somebody noticed that there was a broken cable, and could potentially cause an electrical hazard they raise it their observation straight away with their direct report. Where a potential incident is raised, a safety team ensures the source of the concern is corrected, and the employee who raised the concern is acknowledged and recognised for their efforts.
They introduced a communication, behaviour and consultation charter. These charters outline the company’s responsibilities to each and every employee. Every employee signed the associated charter, thereby indicating their full commitment to its principles and use.  Furthermore, employee participation with the local community is also encouraged through fundraising events for charities and other initiatives.

Total Productive Maintenance

In 2014, they introduced a Total Productive Maintenance programme (TPM) to improve equipment efficiency over its entire lifecycle.  TPM helped them strive towards zero defects, accidents and breakdowns within their operations departments.  In addition, the team implemented a 5S programme in both operational and support areas to improve efficiency.  As a result, this eliminated waste such as looking for tools, materials or information to be reduced and in some cases eliminated.
Following on from the success of their TPM programme, they benchmarked themselves with other Irish companies to further see how they could improve their daily operations. They looked at other initiatives like applying SMED otherwise known as quick change-over of equipment. Changing from one process to another can be anything from car racing to changing accounts with a bank.  It’s the same methodology and it’s the same principle. The quicker you do something the better, and with less waste of time and energy.

Continuous Improvement

Richard said that one of the first building blocks in the Shingo model is that ideal systems support ideal behaviours. So, it’s very important to understand the types of systems, work streams, and workloads their employees have to manage day in and day out. Continuous Improvement or Continuous Learning is about trying to develop a programme around helping them improve their work.
By getting people engaged in identifying small incremental improvements that supports their work, in turn helps them improve the whole organisation.  So that was one of the first key drivers they used to drive respect for every individual.
The company encourages continuous improvement through root cause analysis using Kaizen events, DMAIC, and PDCA. All employees are encouraged to participate in continuous improvement initiatives using lean thinking and methodologies, but also using tools and techniques. This promotes the principle of leading with humility and thinking systemically. Their employees have been encouraged to participate in accredited lean training courses such as Six Sigma, Green Belt, Lean Manufacturing Teams, and Lean Manufacturing Tools.  Consequently, this identified opportunities for continuous improvement across the entire organisation. Richard also shared some of the providers they have used since starting back in 2009, also encourages any organisation willing to embark on their change management journey to use the grants and resources available to them.
This led to engagement, encouragement, and empowerment.  Kaizen is one of the Shingo principles that creates consistency of purpose.  What that means is that it’s creating a consistent approach across the whole organisation, no matter what function, and that you can add value by bringing some level of improvement within your own business unit, as well as cross functional teams.

Small incremental improvements build the momentum, and really help people see that change will help them in their work activities.

Key Performance Indicators

The company’s key performance indicators across all aspects of the business illustrate the effectiveness of their continuous improvement process. They are available for review by all associates as a means of delivering information in a clear and effective manner.


After that, they standardised their processes.  In reality, they looked at what was needed and what wasn’t needed.  They put their judgement standards in place, making improvements visible, and documenting how the standard is achieved.  Next they shared their standards with their employees, helping them sustain and respect the standards that had been developed within the teams. Actually, this is a great tool, and helps move the culture in the right direction. An example of their Office 5S programme can be seen in the picture below
Tosara Pharma Ltd did a lot of work with SMED and TPM, Quick Change-Over of equipment, where traditionally it was the responsibility of the maintenance teams. They focused on upskilling their people to take ownership of their equipment, leaving their engineers to work on other aspects of their role.
In the beginning, the maintenance engineers were reluctant to hand over the changeover of equipment because they thought that by allowing unskilled operators change out parts and setting, might inadvertently damage the equipment.  They believed that this could lead to higher levels of downtime.  But in fact, the reverse was the case.  The more they trained their people, the more they became aware of the equipment performance.  Soon, they were able to fix the machine without having to call for support.  As a result, this built a great level of trust and respect throughout Tosara Pharma Ltd.
In 2009, a product standard SMED change-over took on average eight hours. In 2022 it is now down to less than an hour. This has allowed Tosara Pharma develop it product range, and as a result is now sold in over 50 countries around the world.


The Shingo Model’s first component calls for the creation of an ideal culture in which people are energised, engaged, and motivated to succeed. “Leading with Humility” and showing “Respect for every Individual” has allowed their employees gain a deeper satisfaction for the work they do.  As their people were acknowledged for their work, they wanted to reciprocate their productivity in return.  For Richard, Michael and the team at Tosara Pharma Ltd, it has been a win-win for everyone.

Richard can be contacted on LinkedIn should you wish to learn more.

Next Event

Noel Hennessy will discuss the human aspects of Lean at our next event on 14th July 2022.  Noel has over 20 years of experience executing Continuous Improvement programs. In his previous capacity as Enterprise Excellence Director at Lake Region Medical, Noel led the company to achieve Shingo Bronze Medallion certification in 2009, making it the first medical device manufacturer in Ireland and Europe to do so, outside of the US. He repeated this achievement again in 2015.

This blog post was written by Trish Ferguson, Steering Committee Member of the Dublin Lean Network.

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