Dozens of small improvements have driven big gains at L.B. Foster Co., Allegheny Rail Products, a manufacturer of insulated rail joints located in Pueblo, Colo. The ideas generated by employees at this facility, a 2011 IndustryWeek Best Plants winner, have helped it cut manufacturing costs per joint by 67% since 2007 and reduce the number of man-hours required to build each joint. Given its first-pass quality yield of 99.68%, the L.B. Foster plant demonstrates that quality excellence and productivity gains can go hand in hand.
Nine additional North American facilities -- also 2011 IW Best Plants winners -- also illustrate the kinds of operational rewards that accrue among manufacturers who adopt world-class practices, technologies and strategies.
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