CDI – Experience the 7 Wastes & Lean Workflow in a Simulated Assembly

CDI has developed a fun and interactive lean game to train employees on basic lean principles. The Fat Trax Simulated Assembly (named after the original product, the Fat Trax vehicle) allows employees to experience for themselves the benefits of introducing a lean manufacturing process. Volkswagen SA, Borbet SA and Transnet Rail Engineering are a few of the CDI clients who have experienced the training first hand.


The “Fat Trax Simulated Assembly” as it is more commonly known splits the training group up into teams. The teams’ objectives are to assemble a number of zero defect Fat Trax vehicles in a specified production time. Teams play several rounds, introducing new lean principles in between each round.





The first round employees go into the simulated assembly game “blind”. There is complete chaos as the assembly line is full of waste namely inventory, overproduction, waiting time, movement, transport, and defects! The results are poor with most teams assembling no Fat Trax vehicles at all. Teams are then asked to identify the various reasons why they were not able to build the required number of vehicles. This brainstorming session invariably leads to employees identifying the waste in their lines without even knowing what the 7 wastes are!




Teams are progressively introduced to concepts such as 5S – workplace organisation, the 7 wastes, work in progress, kanban, line balancing, cycle times and the importance of working in station, and as a team. They also touch on some ergonomic improvements. By the time the teams gets to the last round, productivity and quality has improved dramatically, and in true South African style, there is normally lots of shouting and screaming as the competition between the teams heats up.



The Fat Trax simulated assembly has proved to be an excellent training tool for both blue collar and white-collar employees as it puts the lean principles into practice. Employees EXPERIENCE the benefits of lean! The fact that CDI is able to tailor the product and the process to that of the client makes the training more valuable, as the learning is more easily transferable to the workplace if employees can associate with the process and product they are assembling.

Employees are able to experience first hand how the lean tools assist their teams with both quality and productivity improvements. They are also able to compare the disadvantages of a disorganized manufacturing process, with a coordinated lean process flow.


Companies planning to implement or do a refresher on Modules 5 – Lean Workflow or Module 9 Process Improvement 7 Wastes, must not miss out on this great initiative.