“This project has been the most successful improvement project I have had the opportunity to be associated with in my 37 years in the industry.”

Regional Manager, Manufacturing
Project Info

This client engaged RLG to co-implement a continuous improvement project at a major British Columbia sawmill. Industry benchmarks had ranked the division 12 out of 13 in its group of direct competitors. Several of the mills that had ranked that low in the previous year were already out of business. For the division to stay competitive, unit costs needed to come down while lumber quality and lumber recovery indicators needed to be improved.

Project Highlights

  • A successful turnaround had to start with clarifying to all employees the severity of the situation. All department heads developed a new “Success Vision” to bring the mill back into a top percentile ranking and communicated this vision to all personnel.
  • The vision was translated into measurable operational indicators. Clear targets and milestones were set for production, up time, quality and lumber recovery for all departments. All employees were made aware what was expected and why making targets was critical.
  • Accountability for results was increased.
  • The effectiveness of all crew, trades and management meetings, communication processes and interactions was reviewed and a new Operating Rhythm was introduced to improve the effective and timely involvement of all personnel.
  • Crew meetings were held to identify opportunities for improvement. In the first month, crews identified more than 75 ideas. Throughout the project, crews contributed more than 500 ideas.
  • All project goals were achieved, generating a financial benefit of $9 million over baseline and a 24:1 return-on-investment for the client.


“We now measure and track everything from one end of the mill to the other, there is not a stone left unturned. We used to monitor the lumber out the back door, now we look at everything from logs in, to lumber out and everything in between. We’ve made the transition from a reactive to a proactive approach.” 

Sawmill Supervisor