Within The Timken Company's 42-year-old, high-volume tapered-roller-bearing plant in Bucyrus, a remarkable transformation has been taking place.
Most dramatic has been the culture change that has occurred since 1985.
During a mid-1980s restructuring, Timken closed one of the company's two high-volume bearings plants. The Bucyrus plant was spared, but workers feared it was a temporary reprieve.
By 1992, the year they earned their Best Plants award, Bucyrus workers were making a significant contribution to Timken's companywide "Vision 2000" campaign, to become "the best manufacturing company in the world" by the turn of the century.
Conceived in 1989, Vision 2000 placed emphasis on developing "centers of expertise" within the company's plants. Each center develops in-depth knowledge in its specialties, keeps abreast of the latest developments, and spreads that knowledge to other company units. Producing two million tapered roller bearings a week, Bucyrus has become Timken's center of expertise in four areas.
The first is self-directed work teams. A second center of expertise revolves around the CEDAC method-a total-employee-involvement activity that gives everybody a crack at diagnosing and solving designated problems. (CEDAC stands for "cause-and-effect diagramming with the addition of cards.") A third center is the use of part-time employment-to handle swings in demand without resorting to layoffs. The fourth center is a world-class suggestion system, known as the Timken Idea Proposal Program (TIPP). TIPP places decision-making responsibility for ideas at the frontline level.
It all adds up to a total commitment to quality.