Original Date: 09/15/2003
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : High Performance Work System
United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division Aiken implemented a High Performance Work System that allowed the facility to remain competitive in a decreasing market.
In 1992, United Defense, L.P. Ground Systems Division (UDLP GSD) Aiken implemented a High Performance Work System. The prior management structure was a team concept with a traditional management structure. Whenever possible, employees were involved in decisions that affected their work. With regular, one-hour, weekly team meetings, group problem solving sessions began to occur as the teams matured. UDLP GSD Aiken recognized that the defense industry was changing and shrinking. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle was maturing, and past successes could not be counted on for the future. To survive, UDLP GSD Aiken took a proactive approach to changing the way it did business.
UDLP GSD Aiken implemented the High Performance Work System with the development of organizational beliefs and principles used for planning, leading, and managing the business. Operating principles were established to guide the day-to-day interactions of employees. The employees were given the autonomy and freedom to use their capabilities and creativity to operate, maintain, and improve the way things were done. Principles defined the desired culture and provided the boundaries for employees’ performance.
In developing the High Performance Work System, UDLP GSD Aiken defined the beliefs that the survival of business and job security depended on how well customers were satisfied, and the understanding that customers were the only sources of income. The perfection of the material and information flow needed to be the focus of all efforts, and success would occur with everyone striving for excellence and continuous improvement. The company understood that employees wanted to contribute to the success of the business and maximize their contribution if it was perceived to be in their best interest. To be successful, employees must have the right knowledge, the right skill, the will, mutual respect, trust, and support. It was understood that all employees bring a unique value to the business and the teams, and are entitled to a safe and healthy working environment. To accomplish its goals, UDLP GSD Aiken established the following principles: Decision Making: Accommodate team members’ needs when making business decisions, and support those decisions in accordance with the company’s beliefs and principles.
Teamwork: Most work would be done in multi-skilled teams, and employees were encouraged to participate on these teams and support each other.
Skill Application: Work in a flexible manner in the improvement of the business, self, and other employees.
Problem Solving: Problems would be solved as close to the source as possible, allowing for an individual’s direct involvement in business successes.
Meaningful Work: Strive to have jobs which use a variety of employees’ skills, and provide the freedom for employees to work within defined boundaries.
Capability Development (Training): Continuously improve skills and quality of thinking.
Performance Feedback: Preferably, to collect from the job by the individual/team; however, feedback from other sources will provide a help-to-improve purpose.
Information Sharing/Communication: Sharing appropriate information in a timely manner will enable improvement of individuals, teams, and the business.
Reward/Recognition: Recognize and reward employees for continuous demonstration and applications of skills that improve the effectiveness of the organization.
Organizational Contributions: All levels and functions of the organization will provide a distinctive and value-added contribution to the perfection of the material flow and business performance.
The organizational structure was changed to Cell Family Teams (CFTs) with a cell family technician who is responsible for and has the authority to operate, maintain, and improve material flow, manage customer/supplier relationships, communicate and collaborate to solve problems, and establish and achieve team goals. The CFTs have five functional specialists coordinating activities across each shift. The coordinators represent the areas of manufacturing, process improvement, administrative, human resources, and quality. The coordinators’ role is to communicate with their CFTs and the “outside world” in issues involving their functional area. The coordinators are managers of the CFTs’ compliance with the site and teams’ policies, procedures, principles and systems in their functional areas. The coordinators are the champions for the CFTs’ continuous improvement, and the focal point within the CFT for ideas, problems, and issues involving their functional areas.
A resource team consisting of Engineering, First Line Supervisor, and Materials Analyst was established to provide strong “coaching” for the CFTs, build the capability of team members, lead improvements within the CFT, provide equal support to all shifts, and provide technical and functional expertise. Seven business managers were established to lead the implementation of UDLP GSD Aiken’s new work system. The business managers provide strong leadership for the CFTs, facilitate interaction of team members, provide technical/functional expertise and proven “big-picture” business understanding. Through downsizing and attrition, the number of business unit managers eventually decreased to one.
The measures of success defined were: Cost: Operating cost per standard hour shipped; material cost per standard hour shipped
Delivery: Based on the on-time delivery to the customer of 95% on time and the throughput (days per work order)
Quality: Total cost of quality per standard hour shipped, and the pieces accepted by the customer divided by the pieces shipped to the customer.
Other: Safety, health, environmental, and financial
In 2000, the High Performance Work System underwent a renewal process. It was known from the beginning that renewal would be needed on a periodic basis. UDLP GSD Aiken recognized that the shop leadership role needed to be stronger, and Kaizen confirmed the need. The site’s excellence had diminished over the years, and the organization had become reactive rather than proactive.
The leadership of manufacturing was combined into one position, and a stronger leadership presence was established on the shop floor. The shop floor leadership consisted of three Area Leaders on day shift, one Area Leader on second shift, and Team Leaders by each department. The Team Leaders are shop technicians who apply for the job and receive an additional $1.25 per hour, and are closest to the material flow where variables to the process can be quickly corrected. Engineering staff was also moved closer to the work to provide better support. The engineering role includes leadership for capability improvement through Kaizen, Business Process Reengineering, and Process Certification. Area Managers provide the focus and leadership to ensure each team and business area are functioning effectively to meet business and plant requirements and results. Team Leaders provide the focus and leadership to ensure that the team functions in a cost effective and competitive manner. Team building exercises were scheduled to help develop team concepts. UDLP GSD Aiken’s High Performance Work System allowed the company to remain competitive in a decreasing market, and continues to evolve and improve operations.
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