Ideal Combination Technical innovation, team-oriented workforce help deliver superior performance to Bridgestone/Firestone South Carolina. ByJill Jusko Bridgestone/Firestone South Carolina, Graniteville, S.C. At a Glance
Web-Exclusive Best PracticesByJill Jusko Benchmarking contact: Michael Darr, production planning and delivery service leader,
[email protected], 803/232-2026.
The Visual Factory Complex pieces of machinery are part and parcel of the highly automated Bridgestone/Firestone South Carolina (BFSC) manufacturing plant. While the sophisticated equipment helps drive productivity gains at the facility, work instructions for the machinery can be detailed and difficult to remember. To combat this, BFSC has developed visual aids to help operators access key work standards quickly and understand them easily. Quick access means that the visual aids are mounted near or at the machinery to which they refer, not around the corner or deep in a drawer. Easy to understand means that the plant uses a wealth of symbols, illustrations, colors and other graphic elements to present instructions rather than relying heavily on the written word. Additionally, BFSC has created visual standards for the entire plant, assuring that all employees receive consistent messages -- even if they move between departments. For example, visual cues related to quality are always provided in orange, yellow messages mean they are safety-related, and operations-related messages rely on the color green. BFSC says that not only do the visual signals easily reinforce the training provided to employees -- particularly for those new to the area -- but they also serve as "memory joggers" for workers who have been away from work for seven consecutive days as a result of the plant's non-traditional work schedule.
Unusual Work Schedule Bridgestone/Firestone South Carolina employs a non-traditional work schedule for its production employees, who work 84 hours in each two-week pay period -- 48 hours one week, 36 the other -- in 12-hour shifts. As a result, every 28 days each worker will have seven consecutive days off. They also have two weekends off a month. This unusual arrangement reduces what would be a three-shift manufacturing operation to a two-shift operation. One goal of the reduced number of shift changes is to reduce the temporary slump in productivity that usually accompanies a shift change. Additionally, all workers rotate between working night and day shifts, which eliminates both shift pay differentials and "preferred" shifts.
One-Point Lessons Production employees average 120 hours of annual training, which includes a combination of both formal and on-the-job training. That training includes "one-point lessons," so named because they do exactly that -- focus on a single, easy-to-communicate lesson. The vast majority of one-point lessons focus on safety, quality or operations. One-point lessons may be as simple as explaining the procedure for turning in a work shirt (The shirts are leased and may be turned in for new ones if they become damaged.) to providing a lesson on the proper lifting technique for "green" -- or not quite finished -- tires.
- Plant: 1,762,310 square feet
- Start-up: 1998
- OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program "Star" Site;
- 2002 South Carolina Governor's Quality Award;
- 2002 Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing;
- three-year decrease of 74% in days of raw materials inventory;
- three-year reduction of 72.11% in scrap/rework as a percentage of sales;
- three-year reduction of 85% in landfill waste per tire