What is in this article?:
- 2012 IW Best Plants Winner: Driven by Data
- Discovering the Real Cost of Scrap
"Our inventory is at its lowest and our fill rates and profitability are at their highest... We are doing more today with the same number of people as we had in 2008 and getting the highest quality we've ever had," says Harris Products Group president and CEO, David Nangle.
As workers file in through the hallway overlooking the plant floor at Harris Product Group's Mason, Ohio, facility, they are privy to an endless array of data.
The walls of the corridor are plastered with charts and graphs detailing all of the plant's vital performance stats, allowing workers coming in for a shift to check the plant's fill rates and profitability reports, even their managers' weekly 5S ratings. And of course there is the little matter of scrap rates -- a chart the staff has enjoyed watching plummet for the past three years.
Since 2009, when these displays first started popping up, the company has seen steady, relentless improvement. From the 45% decrease in WIP to the 41% drop in customer reject rate and inching up toward a 90% first pass yield, the company's numbers are breaking records, shattering expectations and yielding industry best results.
These successes haven't escaped the attention of Harris Products Group president and CEO, David Nangle. "Our inventory is at its lowest and our fill rates and profitability are at their highest," he says. "We are doing more today with the same number of people as we had in 2008 and getting the highest quality we've ever had."
While it was no easy task to turn around the ingrained inefficiencies of a century-old company, Robert Temple, plant manager and lean champion at Harris, says the company had no choice but to take it on. Because Harris had such a strong standing in the industry, "we knew we could do 'good enough' and stay in business for another hundred years," he says. "But when the recession hit and our competitors started to fail, we knew we had to do something more."
That "something more" meant fundamentally transforming the processes of the entire plant into a lean, cooperative network for efficiency. The first step of that process was to take a closer look at what exactly the company was already doing.
"From my vantage point, there has been a huge evolution of how we do business here at the plant," says CEO Nangle. "We started to document some of the things that we did and realized that while we thought we were really good, we could be much better. That's when the journey began."