Pursuing excellence, pursuing learning
AME Conference in Dallas off to a dynamic start as speakers tell stories of improving productivity and achieving operational excellence.
The opening day of the 2011 Association for Manufacturing Excellence Conference in Dallas brought two key association themes to the forefront – the pursuit of excellence and the pursuit of learning.
A full day of sessions built around central manufacturing themes – including People, Purpose, Passion and Performance – included presentations by representatives for the U.S. EPA, Acuity Brand, Plymouth Tubes, and Loyola University in Chicago, Intel, Nike and the Dallas Cowboys.
The 2011 conference has attracted more than 2,200 Lean manufacturing leaders and plant professionals from around the country to Dallas.
Among the day’s most dynamic and best-attended sessions, Billy Taylor, the plant manager for Goodyear Tire’s Fayetteville, N.C. plant, discussed the turnaround of his facility in just six month. The plant saw an increase in production from 31,000 tires a day to 38,000, using fewer hours and delivering more than $2.7 million to the plant’s bottom line.
Taylor said the key was listening to the line workers, who delivered cost-savings ideas and efficiencies that help spark the turn-around. “People think you have to throw a lot of money at unleashing talent. You just have to show you care,” Taylor said. “It’s important when you tap into that talent. We don’t take applications, we take commitments. If you sign on, we want the best you have to offer. When people were empowered, they look plant to whole new level.”
At another presentation, “Leveraging The Lean Network,” Jack Parsons at Honda of America’s Marysville, Ohio plant talked about harnessing the power of its supplier network to drive improvements both in its supply chain and in its own plant.
“Instead of supplier-OEM engagement, we wanted to create a knowledge-sharing network -- supplier to supplier, OEM to supplier and supplier to OEM,” said Parsons. “The Lean Network is an independent network that exists outside of Honda. Members pay to belong to network. We want active sharing to occur. It’s a resource for the entire organization.
“We are a very demanding customer. We expect the best quality, the best delivery,” Parsons added. “But at same time, we want to provide resources to customers to help them help us.”
Andy Gargac of Nissin Brake in Findlay Ohio is one of those Honda suppliers. Participation in the Lean Network created changes that helped drive a 77% reduction of parts on hold, 70% reduction in scrap plant wide, 2.6 million man hours without lost time through October 2011. “It is amazing how the small incremental Lean-driven activities add up to significantly improve our overall business situation,” said Gargac.
Keynote speaker Dr. Temple Grandin discussed the different ways people learn and how that learning process needs to be identified in students to optimize their learning experience. Once diagnosed as autistic, Dr. Grandin has become a world expert on agriculture and has helped revolutionize the way livestock is handled through the creative use of chutes and paths. She has also helped develop animal welfare guidelines in use in the meat industry. Her story was the subject of an Emmy-winning HBO movie in 2010.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.