Seeing Is Believing The Collins & Aikman Athens, Tenn., Operation relies on visual signals, good housekeeping and teamwork to drive its lean manufacturing imperative. ByJill Jusko Collins & Aikman Athens, Tenn., Operation, Athens, Tenn. At a Glance
Web-Exclusive Best PracticesByJill Jusko Benchmarking contact: Matt Daugherty, lean-manufacturing manager,
[email protected], 423/744-1065
Always Available Plant Manager Paul Slater is never more than a telephone call -- make that a hotline call -- away from any employee who needs his ear. In his office are two telephones, one a dedicated line for workers to "Call Paul" with issues, comments or messages they believe need to reach his ears. Slater says the hotline is not as busy as when it first was introduced at the Athens facility in mid-2000, but it remains yet another means to encourage communication. A recent call from a team member requesting a rearrangement of the July 4th holiday work schedule for that group of individuals was OK'd for the team when all members approved, and it was determined that the change would not hurt production or negatively impact other teams.
Funny Money Yields Budget Control Talk about visual cues! Controller Mary Jane Loftis says the monthly distribution of fake money to teams and individuals as a visual display of their monthly budget allotment has done wonders to keep everyone on budget. How does it work? Loftis distributes the fake green money, in denominations of $50, $100 and $1,000 and emblazoned with the faces of Collins & Aikman employees, to the appropriate personnel each month in small sandwich bags. As the monthly budget is used and expense reports or invoices are turned in for payment, employees must also attach the appropriate amount of Monopoly-type dollars to cover those expenses. When the money is gone, it is gone. Additionally, unused dollars cannot be carried over to future months. In fact the bills are stamped with a month and a year just to be sure that doesn't happen. "It's the best thing since sliced bread," says Loftis, because it truly makes everyone aware of their budget beyond simply seeing numbers on a piece of paper. Most importantly, exceeding budget has virtually disappeared.
Future-Focused Empowerment Program Ever dream about what you would do if you won the lottery or dropped that spare 30 pounds you've been lugging around for the last decade? Employees at the Athens Collins & Aikman plant are encouraged to dream about improvements that would make their facility a better place and submit their ideas for improvements in a program called "What If?" It's an easy program in which to participate: Simply fill out the appropriate form explaining the proposed improvement, as well as the potential savings. If an idea is accepted by the steering committee, the employee receives a $5 gift certificate, and the idea becomes eligible for three additional awards that offer monetary awards in amounts ranging from $50 to $1,000. One winning idea, offered up by first shift's Jean Frye, proposed that magnetic sticks be made available to pick up loose screws, clips and other small metals items that were dropped during production and swept up and thrown away at the end of each shift. Carolyn Garrison received a quarterly award of $200 for an idea that led to a labor cost savings of $116,000. Her idea to move an assembly line grew into a kaizen event that ultimately led to a redistribution of the workload.
- Plant size: 260,000 square feet
- Start-up date: 1978
- Special Achievements
- 2.8 million hours without a lost time injury.
- Toyota Certificate of Achievement for Toyota Service Shipments 2001
- Standard order-to-shipment lead time has been reduced by 75% in the last three years.
- Average work-in-process inventory has decreased by 45% and finished goods by nearly 63% in the last three years.
- Changeover time for injection tools has been reduced by 65.2% in the last two years as a result of scrutinizing all aspects of waste in the mold changeover sequence, as well as the implementation of standardized work.