Editors Note: This article has been updated here.
Similar to manufacturers everywhere, Case New Hollands manufacturing plant in Wichita, Kan., is relentlessly engaged in improving its processes. The methodology it employs, however, may not be quite so widely known.
World Class Manufacturing is the process the Wichita plant employs, explains Humberto Del Rio, continuous improvement manager at Case New Hollands Wichita plant, which produces both Case and New Holland brands of skid steer loaders.
Like lean, WCM actively engages all employees in the continuous-improvement process and is aimed at driving out waste and production losses in the drive for world-class performance. The two methodologies share some similar tools and concepts, including yamazumi boards (used to balance processes), the 5 Whys, and fishbone diagrams, to name a few.
There are differences, however. Unlike lean the WCM approach is organized into multiple pillars (for example, a safety pillar). And the Wichita facility receives twice-a-year external audits to measure improvement against WCM standards. The WCM methodology may be familiar to continuous-improvement personnel in the automotive industry. The Wichita plants introduction to WCM is by way of its ultimate parent company, Fiat Industrial, which spun off from the similarly named car maker.
Losses Drive Priorities
Case New Holland in Wichita relies on some 472 employees -- 410 of which are hourly workers -- to drive improvement at its 80-acre site.
Losses drive the priority of improvement projects, Del Rio says.
The Kansas facility incorporates a manufacturing center, and engineering and test center. Assembly, weld and paint are primary manufacturing processes that occur in Wichita.
The weld shop is 70% automated, says the continuous improvement manager. Improvements there have focused on minimum material handling, autonomous maintenance and just-in-time methods. Del Rio says improvement activities in the area, including bottleneck reduction, have improved throughput by some 40%.
Minimal material concepts also rule in assembly, where fully automated tuggers move parts and relieve humans for more value-added improvement activities.
Indeed, over the period of one year, Wichita employees reduced assembly line takt time from 12 minutes to 10.5 minutes. The gain may not seem huge in isolation, but given the amount of product the facility produces, it adds up. Another benefit of the improved takt time, Del Rio notes, is a reduction in overtime hours.
Case New Hollands takt time improvements were aided by simulation software, according to Del Rio.
He also point out that one assembly line can produce both product brands (Case and New Holland). Previously there were dedicated lines for each brand.
The Wichita plant also employs tools such as quality gates, error-proofing techniques and one-point lessons. Attendees of the June 27 Excellence in Action plant tour will see examples of these, as well as quality maintenance projects with X-Matrix and QM-Matrix, kanban and Quality Network activities.
[WCM] a never-ending journey, Del Rio says.