The art of the possible: Patrick Lee improves manufacturers’ profitability | EEF

The art of the possible: Patrick Lee improves manufacturers’ profitability

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“Different manufacturers have different goals. It can be release of capacity, reduction in equipment downtime or reduction of lead time, but ultimately it all boils down to profitability,” says Patrick Lee, Manufacturing Growth Lead at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation.

As a productivity and business growth consultant, Patrick uses his extensive experience in manufacturing and continuous improvement – gleaned from working around the world and across a variety of sectors – to help UK manufacturers ‘Lean’ their production and make effective, lasting changes to their processes.

Just as every company is unique, so too is Patrick’s tailored approach to each business he works with. Just take a look at the variety in some of Patrick’s recent projects:

  • A 5-year vision for a manufacturer, which was further broken down into three year and one year plans with actions and milestones along the way
  • A three-day consulting project to create a business continuity plan
  • AS13001 problem solving training for an aerospace supplier
  • A mentor for continuous improvement project
  • 8D methodology training and analysis for the automotive industry
  • A study of how to implement automation on the shop floor
  • A Total Productive Maintenance system for maintaining a factory’s equipment and production areas




Currently, Patrick is working with Flaktwoods, an air conditioning manufacturer, by leading a Foundation in Business Improvement course at their site. Both direct and indirect (e.g. office) staff are learning about the principles of continuous improvement. Though the course itself is three days, the participants are assigned internal improvement projects that last over several months and are expected to make a measurable difference in their business. Patrick visits every six weeks to mentor them to ensure progress continues.

Patrick has already seen the benefits: “Because they’re cross-functional teams – from floor staff to office staff – they work on issues that will realistically improve their area of the business. Now they’re really talking to each other and starting to understand the role they each play in the business and how the improvements can link together.”

Patrick’s initial interest in continuous improvement was developed at his first job after achieving his Electronic Engineering university degree. Working in Japan for a large manufacturer, Patrick saw how efficiently processes could run.

He says, “All the processes were written specifically for that site and those people, and it was all very simple and organised. Everyone understood what their part was. The entire site was immaculate and controlled.”

Coming back to the UK, Patrick brought this knowledge to bear as he worked in a variety of manufacturing sectors. One of those companies was American-owned and was going through a transition process. He says, “I found it absolutely fascinating to see how you move from where you are to where you want to be – continuously improving in all areas.”

Patrick decided to take his experience and passion for continuous improvement into working full time as a productivity consultant, a role he’s held for 15 years. He finds that no matter the sector or company size, most companies have the same problems, just manifested in different ways.

“I have a structured process with a focus on delivery, without being limited by a company’s history or internal assumptions. I bring a fresh pair of eyes to challenge the status quo more thoroughly,” he says. “I bring my experience of knowing what good looks like and what can be made simple, more cost-effective and more productive.”

Find out more about Patrick and the rest of the EEF productivity team, and see how EEF can help your company improve its profitability with tested strategies for growth.

If your looking for training to improve efficiency, increase productivity and save cost, Patrick and the rest of the EEF team run open courses as well as deliver tailored training on a particular topic at your site:

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