Carrier Charlotte Chiller Operations, Charlotte, N.C.
Employees: 224, non-union
Total Square Footage: 310,000
Primary Product/Market: Heavy-duty commercial chillers
Start-Up Date: 1999
Achievements: Achieved LEED for Existing Buildings certification in 2009; 95% of supplier orders delivered on time; reduced customer reject rate by 56% during past three years; ISO 9001:2008 certification (five years with zero ISO non-conformances)
"Relentless" is a word that Mark Goodman uses frequently when he talks about Carrier's Charlotte, N.C., Chiller Operations. The high-energy plant manager applies the adjective to the facility's quest to achieve "world-class quality," safety excellence and other operational objectives, but his intensity goes up several notches when the topic is the plant's "relentless war on cost."
|Lab technician Dan Miller performs a final certification test on an Evergreen 19XR water-cooled chiller.|
"We have a bit of a chip on our shoulder, because the operation was unprofitable and had so many issues for so long," Goodman says. "We're just relentless about putting that in the past and about driving value for our customers, creating a safe working environment and taking cost out."
Considering the facility's past, the intensity is understandable. In the mid 2000s, the plant was struggling with key metrics such as on-time delivery, quality, employee satisfaction and environmental health and safety compliance, and facing serious cost issues.
Fast-forward to 2011. The Charlotte facility has made dramatic strides in every operational area and on every key metric, highlighted by a 242% increase in plant-level profitability, a 56% reduction in the customer reject rate over the past three years and a 99% on-time delivery rate.
See the other winners of IW's 2010 Best Plants award and find out how they made the top ten.
Carrier Charlotte in 2009 launched nine new products, all of which were introduced at a minimum of 20% lower manufacturing cost than their predecessors. For the new Puron R-410A refrigerant product line, introduced in July 2009, the plant leveraged lean-at-launch principles and design-for-manufacturability guidelines to consolidate three assembly lines into one -- freeing up 10,000 square feet of floor space.
In its all-out effort to win the war on cost, the plant has leaned heavily on the "Speed" formula. The formula emphasizes three operational strategies: supplier reliability; capability, reliability and repeatability of processes; and an engaged, highly skilled workforce. The plant implements the formula in a number of ways:
- In an effort to establish quality, delivery and cost-reduction targets and favorable payment terms, Carrier Charlotte seeks long-term agreements with suppliers. Every top-tier supplier receives a monthly scorecard highlighting their quality and delivery performance. A team of Carrier engineers helps suppliers boost efficiency in their operations by conducting component-teardown analysis, training and kaizen events for them.
- The facility ensures process capability and repeatability -- no easy task when more than 75% of its orders are built to customer spec -- through strategies such as standard work instructions, material presentation, poka yoke, value-stream mapping and critical component-verification technology.
- Carrier Charlotte fosters employee engagement through monthly plantwide meetings, "Lunch with Goody" focus groups and cross-functional plant-improvement teams that meet monthly with plant leadership to discuss improvement projects and opportunities. Improvement suggestions submitted by employees in 2009 generated $2.25 million in cost savings.
"If we need to spend money, we spend it. But our first choice is always to use creativity over capital," Goodman says. "And it's amazing when you get a couple hundred people focused on that, the power that can bring to the table."