Innovation in Quality and Manufacturing Management: Lessons from the Frontier
November 1-2, 2001
Scroll Technologies makes scroll compressors used to power residential and light commercial heat and cooling systems. Scroll has empowered work teams in which well-trained workers focus on all aspects of continuous improvement. A major catalyst for problem-solving is extensive use of benchmarking on product design, product performance, quality, and manufacturing efficiencies, and environmental protection. Teams convene for Kaizen events during which they work on issues such as these. Since 1996, the plant has achieved significant improvements in productivity and quality, including major reductions in manufacturing costs and customer line rejects.
Continental Teves is focused on being the world's highest quality, lowest cost producer of anti-lock brake systems, traction control systems, and electronic stability packages. The company's initiatives include customer-driven improvement, value-added activities, employee involvement, just-in-time process, visual management, and total preventative maintenance. Frequent product redesigns and incredible cleanliness requirements create formidable challenges for the plant's cross-functional teams. These teams focus on operational equipment efficiency and other highly visible metrics, and in the last six years have achieved very impressive reductions in defect rates, warranty costs, and inventory as well as increases in unit volume and hours worked without a lost-time accident.
BAE Control Systems produces engine controls that are mounted on aircraft engines to monitor engine performance, control engine speed, and optimize fuel efficiency. The company's Lean Sigma Program blends lean-manufacturing principles with Six Sigma quality tools. A key element of the program is the creation of "takt-time-driven" product cells in which multi-skilled workers build customized products in a low-volume-high mix environment. Since its inception four years ago, the program has produced impressive results, including 97% improvement in sales per employee, 90% reduction in customer lead-time, and 70% reduction in work-in-process.
Paxar's Monarch Marking Systems makes mechanical price-marking guns, electronic bar-code printers, and labels for these products. The company's Practical Process Improvement (PPI) program relies on workers' knowledge and gives them the tools to identify process-related problems and propose and test solutions for them. PPI teams gauge their success against metrics that are posted in the plant, and receive bonuses based on them. The "Waste Outs" program complements PPI and encourages workers to make and act on suggestions to save money and drive waste out of a process. These two programs have increased operational efficiencies, as measured by cycle-time, throughput and inventory reduction, by more than 20% in the last five years.