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Continuously improving? Show us how, eh?!

A Canadian water utility pays a visit to see Denver Water’s operational efficiencies up close.

Word travels fast when you do something well.

In this case, it was about 1,500 miles.

A group from Aquatera, a water provider from the Canadian province of Alberta, recently paid Denver Water a visit to understand how the utility has been incorporating Lean principles into its operations since 2012. Aquatera is about to launch its own Lean program.

“This is a bucket list item for me,” said Andy Beal, Aquatera board chair. “I’ve been tracking the developments at Denver Water on the Lean side for four or five years and was very impressed with what I was seeing.”

So our neighbors to the north made the trip south to see Denver Water’s Lean program, called Continuous Improvement, in action. Aquatera’s group visited several Denver Water work sites including the Mechanical Shop and Marston Treatment Plant to see how employees examine work processes and apply Continuous Improvement principles to gain additional efficiencies.

And they didn’t just see Denver Water’s success stories.

“This was a ‘warts and all’ tour,” said David Winter, director of organizational improvement for Denver Water. “I didn’t want anybody to sugarcoat what our journey has been. Where we had setbacks, I wanted to be honest about what those had been, too.”

The folks from Aquatera said they learned several lessons they plan to work into their own Lean efforts. They also look forward to being able to share their own success stories.

“I hope someday somebody calls me and says they saw what we are doing with Lean,” said Meredith Pilkington, chief HR officer for Aquatera. “Then we can share our experiences and do what Denver Water did for us. Pay it forward!”