I would be the first to admit that I am not an expert in employee
empowerment. I have observed some successes in our business and have
seen just as many attempts at employee problem solving fail. The
failures are often the best experiences to learn from and should be
studied in at least as much detail as the successes.
About the Raymond Corporation
The Raymond Corporation is a small to medium sized manufacturing
company that manufactures material handling equipment—specifically
forklift trucks and vertical carousel storage systems. What could be
called a smoke stack industry, Raymond has made forklift trucks an
exciting and fun business once again. This success can and should be
attributed to many aspects—our CEO (Ross Colquhoun) and his
understanding of the market, innovation, capital expenditures, and
management in general, but clearly the most important asset of any
business is its employees—people. Raymond has, like many firms, been
concentrating on teaching employees to identify opportunities and
break down barriers to growth and higher customer service levels.
My part in this team, most recently, is in aftermarket services. The
Raymond facility in Syracuse, New York is responsible for Raymond's
aftermarket parts business and has been able to increase the volume
in the last three years—at the same time reducing the need for
managers and reducing the number of people in the facility. I
suppose there are lots of similar stories, possibly more impressive,
but none-the-less, this story is one of success and one that is an
example of what can be done when people are motivated to make
improvements and see the rewards of their labors.
In 1991, we decided to get into the rebuild business. Electric
motors are a main component of our (all electric) product line of
lift trucks. We had always let the rebuild business go to others in
the days when service was an easy market. We felt that we were
destined to sell only new components—regardless of customer need. It
was this rebuild business (once we decided to get into it) that was
chosen as a great opportunity to try the team approach and to let
employees control their own destiny and accordingly, the growth and
health of this new venture. Traditional management is virtually
nonexistent in this department. This new philosophy is working very
well. I would like to focus on this rebuild team in the first part
of this presentation. Additionally, I will deal with our pursuit of
DRP Class "A" and the issues that surround that implementation.
The Motor Shop
There are ten full time people in the motor shop now. This team has
developed a system for identifying issues and opportunities, finding
solutions for the issues and planning
the implementation of the opportunities, many of which are new
products. The team works much like a business within a business.
Much of the spirit that can be observed would be similar to an
employee owned business with entrepreneurial motivations driving
their efforts. Their solutions are often simple and these
resolutions are seldom slow in coming. Here is how they function.
To be Continued
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02
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