Visitors to Exxon's 3,500-acre complex in Baytown encounter a "quality station" atpractically every turn of a corner. Some consist of a bulletin board; some are fancier. But, by design, they all serve the same basic purposes: to convey overarching business goals to each individual work team, provide a mechanism for stimulating ideas, and track progress toward the goals for that unit.
Throughout the 1993 Best Plants award-winning operation, employees are actively involved in the goal-oriented improvement process. "We've got 2,000 people out there making improvements an average of 12 improvements per person each year," beams site manager Ray Floyd. For example, a series of small improvements enabled the Polymers Division's polypropylene production unit to coax 110,000 metric tons of product annually from a system designed to produce just 70,000 metric tons per year.
Under-girding the plant's improvement efforts are several major initiatives, including a pace-setting campaign to translate just-in-time and "lean" manufacturing concepts, typically oriented to discrete manufacturing, to the chemical process industry. Another initiative is a "human diversity" program, a pilot project within Exxon that emphasizes valuing individual differences, equalizing opportunity, and cultivating an atmosphere in which each employee can contribute to his or her fullest ability.
A heavy emphasis on employee training is bolstered by a central training organization that has 12 full-time trainers, a 6-person library staff, and a fully equipped videotape production studio with the capability to create interactive multimedia trainingpackages. Employees average about 20 full days of training yearly.