The Comeback Plant On the brink of closing, Beiersdorf Inc.'s plant in Cincinnati reversed its fate. ByPeter Strozniak The Beiersdorf Inc. plant in Cincinnati nearly became a manufacturing statistic three years ago when it was on the verge of being closed and moved to Mexico. But through tenacious communication, employee empowerment, and continuous improvement, Beiersdorf changed that fate and today stands as one of America's Best Plants. Beiersdorf's extraordinary comeback from its near-death experience was launched, oddly enough, in a meeting held in a minivan owned by plant manager Larry N. Kessler. There, he presented a Beiersdorf senior executive with a simple but bold plan to save the plant. Essentially, it was Kessler's exceptional ability to communicate this plan that launched the plant's journey to future success. In just three years, Beiersdorf's 160 self-directed, unionized employees have achieved impressive results:
The only major manufacturer of brace and support products still operating domestically Customer reject rate 2.8 ppm Operating equipment efficiency for major production lines 94.3% Reduction in new-product cycle time during last five years 50% Increase in export volume during last five years 70 % First-pass yield for all finished products 98.9% Standard order-to-shipment leadtime for a typical product 24 hours
- Manufacturing cycle time cut by 78%.
- Total inventory decreased by 53%.
- A 97% reduction in lot size.
- Only 16 consumer complaints from the 6.8 million units manufactured last year.
- Implemented Total System Solutions (TSS), a lean-manufacturing process from the Toyota Production System that increased productivity by 75% per employee.