Hobson & Motzer made a commitment to continuous improvement nearly 25 years ago. It is a commitment that has endured and has expanded and evolved into a core business practice that influences daily decisions at every level of our company. The time and resources we dedicate to operational excellence (OPEX) have made a tremendous impact in our company over the years. As a result, we are able to leverage our strong operational performance to continually focus on other critical improvements and projects.
As do many manufacturers, we started our continuous improvement journey with traditional lean manufacturing tools. With early successes, lean efforts morphed into full strategy/policy deployment that introduced goals and brought a more cohesive structure to this initiative. Along the way, we tapped into more culture-changing innovations that empowered our team members and created a unified front for continuous improvement at Hobson & Motzer.
In 2018, we adopted the guiding principles of the Shingo Model for operational excellence. Our team’s mission is to reach the pinnacle of enterprise excellence through application of the Shingo Principles.
Traditional “lean tools” drove early success on several projects. Our employees were trained solidly in the fundamentals, as well as some even deeper training for a better understanding of specific lean tools—i.e., where projects had higher stakes or just required more focused improvements.
- Value stream mapping
- Cellular work flow design
- Visual systems
- Set-up reduction
Early efforts brought big improvements, such as reducing set-ups on a family of parts from days to hours, or trimming several days from a lead time with value stream mapping, one-piece flow, and cellular design. Through using these lean tools, we were able to achieve unprecedented levels of productivity and improve delivery, which lasted for several years.
It is common, however, for results to peak or even revert to the prior state all together. Though we were relatively new with lean, we learned that a “tools only” approach had certain vulnerabilities. This only reinforced our commitment to continuous improvement, having achieved real progress.
The Shingo Model
As a company, we embrace continuous improvement and have implemented a range of effective programs over many years that have made Hobson & Motzer a better company. The Shingo Model is not another layer of lean tools; it is an enterprise system—a new way of thinking. Shingo encompasses a hierarchy that leads to enterprise alignment, and ultimately greater customer value. There are 10 guiding principles in the Shingo Model that serve to solidify our current efforts and drive behavior that permits sustainable results that have deep impact.
- Respect Every Individual
- Lead with Humility
- Seek Perfection
- Embrace Scientific Thinking
- Focus on Process
- Assure Quality at the Source
- Flow & Pull Value
- Think Systemically
- Create Constancy of Purpose
- Create Value for the Customer
The Shingo Model has given us means with which we can share and better understand what is important and sustainable. The guiding principles have given us a clear structure and an improved scope to our efforts.
Policy deployment is the process of cascading the strategic vision to projects at the department level, and ultimately, tasks for front-line workers. This adds structure to our efforts toward enterprise alignment, a key element in the Shingo Model, aimed at creating constancy of purpose. Establishing the right goals and effectively communicating them throughout the organization is critical to ensuring that everyone is working toward the same end result. This systemic approach links every employee’s work to the top-level strategy and drives a reciprocal relationship between parties up and down the value chain—from the plant floor to the senior management team.
Policy deployment starts with select, high-level goals that are critical to achieve in three to five years. Within the framework, managers focus their improvements around a year-long initiative and appropriate measures are selected to track improvement. Results are measured and linked directly back to the overarching strategies, ensuring alignment throughout the organization.
Process key performance indicators (KPIs) and improvement metrics are displayed for all to see. Problem solving and improvement efforts include cross-functional teams, so every employee has input, insight, and visibility into the improvements affecting their area. The use of traditional lean tools (value stream mapping, pull systems, 6S, set-up reduction, etc.) play a role in many instances, dovetailing into our overall operational excellence platform.
Hobson & Motzer has a strong, talented team that continually offers value to our company. Our idea system, a program launched in 2015, is a forum that gives every employee a voice and platform to communicate their ideas. Typical ideas center on how we can improve our quality, productivity, safety or ergonomics, and can also address quality-of-life issues on the shop floor. Some ideas have a substantial impact, while others may simply make a task a little easier to perform or an environment more pleasant to be in.
Our program is based on guidelines set by Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder, authors of Ideas Are Free. After a core reason for a problem is identified, it is noted and addressed during weekly meetings, and an execution plan for resolution is made along with an expected completion date. The person responsible for the completion of the next step toward the resolution is identified. Every step is tracked and recorded, and progress is measured, ensuring follow-through and implementation.
We used 6S as a launching pad for our idea system. Following a 6S Kaizen, teams would meet twice a week to discuss further improvements to the organization and cleanliness of their area. We soon spread the idea to all other departments and began to expand the topics for discussion to include more lean topics. The key to the success of this system is employees have a level of autonomy to become change agents in their respective departments. This has created a sense of empowerment with the ability to impact and change the work flow and environment—all very vital to a cultural improvement, overall job satisfaction, and productivity. Today, every employee is formally trained in—and participating in—the idea system. We set goals, collect data, and measure by department to gauge engagement and impact to the business. In 2018, our idea system successfully implemented more than 1,500 ideas.
The OPEX Effect
Operational excellence is the guiding principle that keeps our goals for productivity, precision and quality, on-time delivery, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction aligned at every phase of the project and level of production. We are proud to continually create improvements to our processes that ensure our parts and components perform at the highest levels for our customers. How can we help you achieve the best out of your parts and components? Contact us now to get the conversation started.