Original Date: 01/24/1994
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Self-Directed Work Teams
Self-Directed Work Teams at Harris have evolved from employee involvement programs initiated since 1984. These Self-Directed Work Teams – with primary goals of increased manufacturing performance and customer satisfaction – are responsible for daily operations and direction of wafer fabrication facilities at the Palm Bay, Florida site.
The success of Self-Directed Work Teams to operate effectively results largely from the use of many improvement techniques in place at Harris since the mid 1980s that became fundamental to Self-Directed Work Teams development. These techniques include SPC, Just-In-Time, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), CAM, Design of Experiments (DOE), and others. Training and personnel programs such as employee involvement and Specialized Employee Education (SEE) programs are also key enablers. Self-Directed Work Teams have evolved out of the existing culture based on a foundation of programs and methods that supported their development.
Self-Directed Work Teams at Harris have distinguishing attributes including the level of training and education. Harris recognizes that tasks in the manufacturing areas have evolved at a rate requiring a high level of skill for entry level employees and the ability to upgrade skills as experience levels increase. To meet the increased skill demands of methodologies like SPC, JIT, and CAM, Harris is hiring more qualified candidates. The company therefore uses a Production Specialist (PS) Program where each new employee must have a two year technical degree. After entering the workforce, the new employee is trained in most facets of operations including wafer processing, basic equipment maintenance, and process/product dispositioning. Likewise, under the SEE Program, employees volunteer to attend a year-long program where half of their time is spent in their production area and the other half in the classroom. This program is administered by the local community college and is designed to teach advanced skills. Both PS and SEE result in employees who are better prepared to participate in the Self-Directed Work Teams program and ensure its success.
Each new Self-Directed Work Team develops a Skills Matrix that accounts for the background and capabilities of each team member to achieve the team's overall goals. The matrix categorizes skills into Operational, Administrative, and Technical functional areas. This tool allows the team to monitor its inventory of specific skill levels and prioritize training levels toward self management. Each functional skill level is classified into three progressive levels of competency to be used as a tool to measure improvement toward team goals. Support teams work with the Self-Directed Work Teams to develop systems that help increase autonomy for the Self-Directed Work Teams. This effort provides benefits such as improving the skills and training of the teams and reducing indirect labor costs.
The most important aspect of Harris’ Self-Directed Work Teams is the ability of the teams to understand and focus upon major goals such as improving quality, reducing costs, and improving delivery. Each team is aware of and tracks what it does on a daily basis to affect quality, cost, and delivery. The teams have been trained to use the CAM system to track work in process and monitor inventory levels throughout their respective areas. This practice supports self management and provides teams information needed to make sound decisions regarding necessary daily activities.
Communication systems connect teams and facilitate factory- wide improvement. One system is the electronic mail system that links teams and individual team members. Another is the shift-to- shift passdown that provides for communication of critical information such as equipment status, product status, and operation summaries. Formal team presentations are made to management at six month intervals that include team accomplishments on projects, training, or any other topic that affects a Self-Directed Work Team’s ability to perform its mission.
Benefits of Harris' approach to Self-Directed Work Teams have been significant. Team focus on major goals has produced substantial gains in product yields and reductions in cycle times. Team initiated developments in the areas of individual career paths and performance appraisals have resulted in greater customer focus, workforce cooperation, greater participation and involvement, and accelerated improvement. Harris Corporation's experience with teams has been so successful that the Electronic Systems Sector has published a booklet entitled "Team Best Practices" based on an examination of the best teams at Harris and what makes them successful.
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