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The Die Is Cast (part 2) PDF Print E-mail

“Scheduling is complex,” he continued. “Running lean means you can’t be running big volumes and putting them in warehouses. We need to run to the level of what the customer needs within the near future, like the next five days. We’re running just in time: we ship it when they call for it, and they buy it when they take it.”

 

 Then there are the quality standards. “Expectations keep going up for quality,” Johnson said. “They want zero defects, so they push you to get there. There’s no way you can have the old style of the boss watching what’s going on and be successful.

 

So what does a Tier One supplier need to do to meet all these demands? Two things are vital, according to Johnson. “Your associates are the key place to get ideas,” he said. “The other is technology. Our associates are a great source of improvements, and our parent company is a world leading die caster, constantly looking at new methods.”

 

Ryobi has an official improvement suggestion system through which employee suggestions can earn them cash awards and the opportunity to work on an implementation team. “If it’s simply a possibility, you get $5 for the suggestion,” Johnson explained. “If we decide to implement it, you get $10. After implementation, depending on how much we’re saving, you can get up to $1,000.”

 

In just two years this program has helped save Ryobi Die Casting nearly $4 million. “What one person sees as a small scrap issue may be able to be applied across the company,” Johnson said. “We’ve been able to cascade those little ideas into many cells and machines.”

 

More remarkable than the savings from the employee suggestions is the fact that Ryobi is already held to very strict quality standards. It holds both ISO/TS 16949 and ISO 14001 certifications and undergoes rigorous audits every six months. It earned quality and delivery recognition awards from Toyota from 2002 through 2005, was named “Top Quality Improvement Supplier for 2002” by ZF Batavia, and has earned Ford’s Q1 rating.

 

“It all goes back to how good your system is and that you have a motivated workforce to work that system,” Johnson said. “Everybody has to buy into that system, and if something is wrong with that system, we as managers have to be willing to listen to those employees and be willing to change it.

 

“We don’t want to worry about the customer getting bad parts, so we have to assure the system delivers quality,” he continued. “It takes a tremendous amount of work and commitment to have a system that generates quality. People have to be trusted, and you have to respect them and give them the authority to stop things when the quality is suspect. Trust and respect—it’s the only way it can work.”

 
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