Extraordinary Extrusions Continuous improvement, quality efforts make Aeroquip-Inoac a market leader. By Glenn Hasek Aeroquip-Inoac Co., Automotive/Exterior Trim, Livingston, Tenn.
At a glance
Web Exclusive Best Practices Aeroquip Co., maker of automotive spoilers and body side moldings. By Glenn Hasek Benchmarking contact: Lonna Strong, AIC--Quality Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, 931/823-7381. Environment Eaton Corp., the majority owner of AIC's Livingston plant, has mandated that all of its facilities be certified to the ISO 14001 standard. Gary Tapocsi, plant manager, says the automotive/exterior trim division had its preliminary assessment conducted in March. The registration audit is scheduled for this month. AIC has made significant progress in reducing waste. All waste PVC from extrusion processes is sent out for recycling. The molding compound used in the blow-mold process for the spoilers is reground and metered back into the product. Cardboard and wooden pallets also are recycled. Community Located in the small community of Livingston since 1987, AIC gives back to its community in a big way. While the plant has been offering an increasing number of employment opportunities, it also offers plant tours to students and an adopt-a-school program. "We support local sports teams, Special Olympics, United Way, and a Christmas toy drive," says Tapocsi. As part of Family First, a welfare-to-work program, the plant has hired four people. AIC's commitment to the community is highlighted in its values statement. "We as people make up the community in which we live," it states. "As a plant, we are committed to being involved in making our community the best." Safety AIC's stellar safety record is no accident. Safety is an issue discussed in orientation and employees are continually reminded of it. "The safety story starts from the top," says Gary Laycock, focused business manager. "We also have a safety team. What they do is review the plant floor. Every shift has a member on that team that does audits. It's a consciousness on the floor. We look at it daily." Employees are rewarded quarterly with such items as T-shirts and mugs. The plant also is pursuing Tennessee's Volunteer Star status, a program that requires a state-level OSHA inspection. Training Opportunities for training, advancement, and profit sharing are just a few of the reasons employees stay at AIC. Offering employees the chance to suggest improvements and participate in kaizen events also is a draw. During the plant's December 1997 expansion the workforce more than doubled in size from 70 to 185 employees. Plant manager Tapocsi spent 1.5 hr in one-to-one orientation with each of those new employees. The company's Level Up program offers employees the opportunity to obtain wage increases and promotions after reaching goals such as participating in customer and supplier visits, or demonstrating leadership ability. Recognition Striving to be the best is not unusual at AIC In 1997, before it was acquired by Eaton Corp., the company's Americas Industrial Div. facility in New Haven, Ind., also was selected as one of America's Best Plants. In 1999 the Eaton Corp. Aeroquip Global Hose Div. in Mountain Home, Ark., was named a Best Plant. The Livingston plant's honors include: the Aeroquip Quality Plus award in 1995, 1997, and 1999; the Tennessee Quality Commitment Award in 1996; the Tennessee Quality Achievement Award in 1998; and Tennessee's Small Employer of the Year Award in 1998. In August Eaton was selected as one of IndustryWeek's 100 Best-Managed Companies for the first time. Certified Quality AIC has implemented myriad quality programs to guarantee satisfied customers. In addition to its pending ISO 14001 certification, the Livingston plant has achieved ISO 9000 and QS 9000 certification. Additional efforts to ensure quality include benchmarking visits, an employee suggestion system, and implementation of lean-manufacturing fundamentals. To prepare for application to Tennessee's Voluntary Protection Program, Tapocsi says his staff visited a plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., that already had earned the OSHA program's Star designation. Plant managers and employees also visit with customers on a quarterly or monthly basis to handle any quality concerns, says Tapocsi.
At a glance
- No lost-time accidents in last four years.
- Warranty costs as percentage of sales: 0.2%.
- Plant-level profitability increased 234% in last five years.
- Won Aeroquip Quality Plus Award in 1995, 1997, 1999.