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IW Best Plants Profile - 1994

The 1994 Best Plants award winner Gilbarco Incorporated creates and manufactures gasoline dispensers for the Information Age, as well as the control systems and software programs that station owners use to manage them. In the early 1980s, Gilbarco introduced the revolutionary multi-product dispenser, doubling its market share to 50 percent.

As so often happens, success brought overconfidence. The competition quickly caught up, and by 1985 Gilbarco's market share had slipped to 32 percent.

The turnaround started in early 1986 with a new manufacturing strategy called CRISP (Continuous Rapid Improvement in the System of Production). Today, CRISP has evolved and spread into every corner of the operation from new-product design to accounts receivable as EDGE (Everyone Dedicated to Gilbarco Excellence), which calls for the eventual achievement of six-sigma quality in every function.

Thus far, results are impressive. Cross-functional teams, concurrent design, design for manufacturing and assembly, and end-of-line configuration have reduced the product development cycle by 70 percent and increased reliability by 65 percent. Market share has rebounded to 47 percent.

Despite continued growth, manufacturing space requirements are significantly lower today than in 1985. Also, the ratio of employees to supervisors has improved from 18:1 in 1989 to 47:1, with half of the organizational layers eliminated. Teams have reduced setup times on the 100-ton press from 45 minutes to 5 minutes, and effected other changes, saving $1.8 million annually. Their work is supported by a corporate commitment to education that includes 57 hours of initial training and a computerized learning center.

Applying TQM techniques and teamwork to traditional white-collar jobs has fueled many of the company's most recent gains.

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