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Winterthur Gas & Diesel’s Lean Product Development Journey


Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD) develops 2-stroke low-speed Gas and Diesel engines used for propulsion power in merchant shipping. WinGD engineers products to order, while manufacturing is made through a worldwide network of licensees. WinGD introduced lean in 2011 focusing on the development of new products and solutions to add value to its customers. Through its journey, the company deployed different lean thinking best practices in the product development process.

By reading further, you will learn how WinGD integrates lean thinking principles across different functions and find out where to find more details about their Lean Product Development Journey.

Winterthur Gas & DieselWinGD is a leading developer of 2-stroke low-speed Gas and Diesel engines used for propulsion power in merchant shipping. These engines are utilized for the propulsion of all types of deep-sea ships worldwide, such as tankers, bulk carriers, car carriers, general cargo ships and container ships.

The company was previously known as Sulzer Diesel, a Swiss industrial engineering and manufacturing firm established in 1834 in Winterthur, Switzerland and later as Wärtsilä. WinGD is (since 2016) 100% part of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation.  WinGD’s research center is based in Winterthur and focuses on the development of leading technologies for applications towards new generation low-speed engines.

In 2011 WinGD introduced Lean Thinking in order to focus on products and solutions to add value to its customers. As WinGD started its Lean journey, external support was required to create a customized training for Top Management and ensure their commitment. The company also completed a lean assessment to create a referral “point zero” of its lean journey. Through the following years, awareness to apply lean thinking was spread across the company and teams implemented techniques focusing on hearing and understanding the true voice of the customer


Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD) Lean Product Development Journey

Through its journey, WinGD implemented several practices in the Lean Product Development process. These practices were identified and structured according to the four building blocks of the Lean Innovation Model proposed by the Lean Analytics Association as a generic framework to consolidate best practices across industries. The detailed explanation of each of the lean practices identified are available at WinGD chapter in the Lean Product Development Best Practices Book. Below, few of the identified best practices will be briefly described:


WinGD completed a lean assessment to create a referral “point zero” of its lean journey. The assessment was repeated later to identify achievements and future opportunities. In the early stages, it was extremely important to engage top management by exposing them to the lean thinking approach and envisioning the benefits and expected impact to obtain their commitment.


Following an initial training in 2011, WinGD performed several training sessions including a lean awareness training for 150 middle managers and employees to roll out lean psychology and encourage lean thinking. WinGD has since invested many resources to train its employees on how to apply lean methods and techniques in their day-to-day work.


WinGD held several Value Stream Mapping events where value stream maps of most of its delivery processes were created and potential improvements were identified and implemented thereafter.


To maintain the success from the start of its sustainability and efficiency journey, WinGD sets objectives, targets and initiated a change management program encouraging the commitment of employees that is crucial to success.


Consolidated best practices identified in Winterthur Gas & Diesel, structured around the Lean Innovation Model

Impact of applying Lean Thinking in Product Development

  • The focus was to define a vision to implement lean thinking towards an efficient customer delivery processes.
  • Value Stream Maps were developed for the delivery processes to identify improvement areas with regards to customer needs and define an action plans engaging employees for change.
  • The implementation of actions at the delivery projects generated shortened lead times through the removal of bottlenecks and rework.
  • “Right first time” was improved by enabling design guidelines and design reviews, which are continuously updated based on lessons learned and experts input.

Design reviews have become more efficient by mixing with neighbouring design areas who, together with the core group and experts, review critical designs with regards to cost and operational reliability.

Book 2017 - Mockup 01 (small-900px)

WinGD Best Practices are presented and described on more than 25 pages in the Lean Product Development Best Practices book. WinGD chapter is only one out of the 10 chapters presenting the real-world application of lean product development in multinational companies.

The hard copy of the book with the 10 cases is available for only 74.99 EUR.


WinGD Lean Product Development case is available digitally free of charge to our members.


Interested to become a member?


About the Authors

DMaklin 2016 (Profile Rounded) B&WDOROTEJA MAKLIN
Lean Analytics Association

Doroteja has 3 years of experience collaborating in Lean Product Development projects with a background in mechanical engineering and ultra-precision technologies. She has worked with global organizations from various industrial sectors, either leading or supporting the development and introduction of bespoke lean innovation and new product development solutions.

Doroteja is interested in innovation capability development and over the past years, she has developed several training courses to support organizations achieving quick and efficient knowledge transfer through customized simulated sessions. Being a certified Service Design Thinking Facilitator she believes in “Doing, not speaking” and supporting developments of truly customer-centric products and services.

Doroteja is a co-author of the Lean Product Development Best Practices book and conference publications.


Lean Analytics Association

Dr. Flores has over 20 years of experience collaborating as internal or external consultant in different manufacturing and services organizations, leading several initiatives related to Lean Thinking, Business Process Improvement, Six Sigma, Supply Chain, Change Management, Open Innovation, Digital Transformation and Human Centered Service Design; providing also training and coaching.

She is co-founder and president of the Lean Analytics Association (LAA) and visiting scholar at the College of Management of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

She carried out her Post-doc at EPFL collaborating at the Lean Product and Process (LeanPPD) FP7 European Project from 2009 to 2013. She completed her PhD in 2006 at the Politecnico di Milano studying Open Innovation Models to enable Industry-University collaboration for innovation. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Manufacturing Systems in 1999 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Monterrey Tec (ITESM) in 1996.

Doroteja Maklin
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