Spotlight Shines on Maquiladora An award-winning border plant has been transformed into a lean role model. ByWeld RoyalDelphi Rimir, Matamoros, Tamaulipas, MexicoAt a glance
Web Exclusive Best PracticesDelphi Rimir, maker of automotive airbags. ByWeld Royal Benchmarking Contact: Rosalinda Torres, plant manager, [email protected], 956/548-2201. Lean Manufacturing Delphi Rimir has thoroughly embraced lean manufacturing. Some examples: Reduction of cycle time through micro-movement analysis. Each floor worker's actions were reviewed, and every motion optimized. If a worker spent even an extra second looking for a tool, the tool was put in an obvious place so he could easily find it. A manufacturing sensei, or master, helped Rimir improve cycle time by collaborating with the operadores (as the local hourly workers are known), asking them to time their every move and encouraging them to come up with the most efficient motions to accomplish the task. Managers and operadores carefully studied machine uptime and realized that because of large inventory between stations, and machine variability, plant machines weren't being run at optimal levels. Thanks to the studies, adjustments were made and uptime improved. A heijunka box ensures level scheduling and production output. Production is monitored every 15 minutes. When an operadore falls behind, managers become involved, helping to prevent overtime at the end of the day. The lean initiative has produced some impressive results. Chief among them, the facility has boasted a customer return rate of less than 10 ppm since 1997. Safety Rosalinda Torres, plant manager, insists on being "fanatical about safety." The black wristband she sports is not a fashion statement, but a safety statement. Exposed jewelry is prohibited from the plant floor and the band covers her bracelet. Other rules such as mandatory protective eyewear in work areas are strictly enforced. Once a month near misses and other safety issues are reviewed. The effort pays off. From 1996 to 1999 employees worked 9.5 million hours without a lost workday due to an accident. Community Involvement When human resources director Jose Alfredo Rangel saw the condition of one of the schools attended by the children of operadores, he quickly took action. "There were exposed electrical wires hanging from the ceiling; the walls were not finished," he recalls. Rangel organized the donation of used factory equipment including computers and electric lights, telephones, and furniture. Then he pulled together a group of employees from Rimir to repair the dangerous wires, to build classrooms, and upgrade bathrooms. When the volunteers were finished they moved to another school to offer similar donations and construction work. "If our employees are worried about their children's schools, they won't be doing a very good job for us," Rangel concludes. Work Teams Natural work groups form the core of Rimir's organization. Employees are organized by similar functions and by proximity. The goals of the work groups include increasing employee ownership over the work process, training workers to perform all tasks in their geographic area, and encouraging the elimination of waste. In this relatively low-skill environment, substantial training is what makes these natural work groups particularly effective. Since 1997 Rimir has averaged 80 hours of training per employee. Classes cover error proofing, lean manufacturing practices, and human relations. Improvement Suggestions At Rimir operadores are encouraged to offer suggestions, but the plant does not reward good ideas alone. Instead it prizes implemented ideas. Every Wednesday afternoon all managers go to the line to inspect improvements made thanks to employee suggestions. Individuals and natural work groups responsible for the changes are rewarded with shirts or food coupons. Environment When it became clear to managers at the Delphi Rimir plant that the local Matamoros government would not install an adequate wastewater treatment plant, Rimir built its own. This helped to limit the stench that accompanies poorly treated wastewater. The plant now recycles 70% of water it uses. It expects to receive the ISO 14000 certification later this year.
- 99.7% first-pass yield.
- 100% on-time delivery rate.
- Customer reject rate on shipped products: 10 ppm, down from 3,000 ppm five years ago.
- 78.3% reduction in finished-goods inventory in the last five years.
- 95% reduction in lot size in the last five years.
- 80% decrease in OSHA-reportable lost workday rate in last five years.