1990 IW Best Plants Profile: Xerox

The 1990 Best Plants award-winning Webster site of Xerox Corp., which includes the Components Manufacturing Operations (CMO) and New Build Operations (NBO) plants, typifies the company's commitment to continuous improvement. The CMO plant does sheet-metal work, machining, plating, harness assembly, and plastics injection molding. It supplies about 15 percent of the components that are assembled into finished products in the NBO plant across the street.

Thanks to improved designs and an extensive effort to upgrade the quality of both internal and external suppliers, the number of defective parts caught on the line at Webster plummeted from 10,000 parts per million (ppm) in 1980 to just 360 ppm by 1990.

Webster's quality gains can be traced to Xerox's "Leadership Through Quality" effort, inaugurated in 1984, which relies on an extensive employee-involvement program.

But Xerox has no intention of resting on its laurels. One of the newest techniques, dubbed "A-delta-T," involves the use of a ratio to measure the gap between actual performance and a "theoretical best" level. It is a useful tool in setting goals.

Quality has also been enhanced by state-of-the-art equipment. Due to the consistency of robotic welds in the 5090 frame cell, first-pass yields on completed frames rose from 85 percent in 1989 to better than 99 percent in 1990.

The use of a pull system and smaller lot sizes in the frame cell has reduced work-in-process and thereby improved quality.

In addition to quality, JIT methods, electronic kanban links to suppliers, setup reduction, cross-trained workers, self-scheduling teams, and flexible equipment all get emphasis.

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