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The Die Is Cast (part 3) PDF Print E-mail

Ryobi operates under the philosophy found in Ken Blanchard’s Gung Ho, which has three basic principles: worthwhile work, knowing goals, and celebrating successes. All three are highlighted in Johnson’s quarterly “town meetings,” in which he hands out awards and shares information about the company to keep all employees informed. “We try to be completely open and honest,” he said. “You’ve got to keep your employees motivated; once you stop doing that, you’re in trouble.”


But assuring quality products doesn’t begin inside Ryobi Die Casting. It extends to its vendors, who are held to the same high standards. “We’re looking for good companies that are lean,” Johnson said. “We’re looking for their system. If they don’t have a system that’s going to produce good parts for them, we’re not going to get good parts all the time.”


Once someone is part of Ryobi Die Casting, either as an employee or a vendor partner, quality becomes a personal responsibility. Should something go wrong, vendors and managers alike are called to a meeting—known as “positive practice”—to explain how it can be prevented from happening again. “It’s a corrective-action meeting,” Johnson said. “If there’s something we did wrong internally, or one of the suppliers did, someone has to stand up and explain. We don’t yell at them. We want them to show us they know how to solve problems.


To build efficiencies, Ryobi Die Casting also is doing more two-cavity dies, instead of making parts in one cavity at a time. “I’ve got a parent company in Japan that’s constantly working on new ideas,” Johnson said. “I only have to be better than my competitors; that’s all I’ve got to be.”


“This is how we foster vendors,” he continued. “We want them to show us they’re on the same path we’re on. For them to be a supplier of ours, they have to be very, very good. There’s no room for us in Tier One to have a bad supplier.”


As good as the people are, the technologies Ryobi uses also are vital to its success. “Quality is the key now,” Johnson said, “making less bad parts every day.” Reducing cycle times and scrap also are important. In the past, the best those in die casting could hope for was 80 to 85 percent good product (15 to 20 percent scrap). That’s no longer the case. “Gradually that has come up,” Johnson noted. “Internally we see numbers like 97 percent net good product. This has come from experienced workers and better technology.”

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