Australian Weaving Mills

Australian Weaving Mills (AWM) is the home of textiles for brands such as Dickies, Dri Glo, Esprit Home, Koala Blue, The Cottonfield Collection and Tara Plus brands. In addition to their local manufacturing, AWM has an impressive sources side to meet the local needs. Operating in Devonport, Tasmania, AWM is today Australia’s sole manufacturing of towelling products.

After detailed discussions within the sector, a small number of strategic objectives have been identified to increase the sustainability and build internal problem-solving skills at AWM. The implementation of specific lean manufacturing processes is seen as essential to the management of Australian Weaving Mills. Mr. Steve Neilly, the Manufacturing Manager, has identified the weaving and hemming sections as lead areas for piloting the Competitive Manufacturing/ Lean Initiative.

In 2008, Mr Neilly and Mr Richardson attending the ILS Lean Practitioner Program (Grad Cert), which is held in Melbourne, Victoria. The Vocational Graduate Certificate requires the completion of 3 one week block of face-to-face training delivered over a 6 -€“ 8 month period to enable time to complete enterprise based project work. The training program is driven by work place project development, where participants are required to apply their learning’s to their organizations.

In February 2009, AWM held on-site training for 23 of their staff members to begin spreading the skills and knowledge of lean throughout the organisation. They underwent three two-day training sessions, covering the theory, principles and tools of lean. Between each training session, teams were provided with a workplace project where they could contextualize their learning’€™s to their own work areas. According to Mr. Neilly “The balanced mix of both theoretical and practical training has equipped the participants with the knowledge and skills to first recognize opportunities for improvement and then apply relevant lean tools, in the work environment, to realize and sustain those improvements.”

A four day Learning and Improvement Focused Transformation (LIFT) event then took place, allowing teams to analyze key areas of the business and apply lean tools such as 5S, visual controls, pull systems and set-up reduction principles. Moreover, teams were able to gain exposure to the different parts of the business that they would not have normally been exposed to, thus giving them a broader understanding of the operations involved in making their products. “The initial Lean training delivered by ILS at AWM has been highly successful with substantial, measurable gains being made in setup reduction time and WIP reduction in the specific target areas… and as a result has created a very positive platform to expand the adoption of Lean principles and practices into more areas of the business”€ commented Mr. Neilly.


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