Definity’s mission was clearly defined and the team went into the facility ready to make an instant impact to improve their operations. The POE team was involved heavily in the daily run, or day-to-day operations of the company, with little focus on improvement and growth at any level of the organization. It was clear POE needed a shop floor transformation as well as a reassessment of roles and responsibilities.
• Increased predictability and confidence in the operating systems: By focusing on people and shop floor velocity, “standard work” was developed for the truck assembly line and subassembly stations that included daily measurements and goals. Communication was improved through daily shop floor huddles and web portals with key suppliers to ensure that both supply and demand matched expectations.
• Developed a thoughtful assembly process: Floor leaders engaged the team to optimize the production flow and balance the workflow, continually recognizing the impacts of ongoing improvements to the work processes. The assembly team balanced the work around takt time which provided confidence in the production capacity of the current facility and an understanding of what would be required to scale to 20 trucks/month.
• Empowered the frontline leaders to run the day-to-day operations, allowing upper management to focus on improvements and growth: Once frontline leaders had the tools and leadership guidance they needed to make decisions, manage critical issues, reduce daily surprises and get trucks out the door more efficiently, upper management was able to move out of the daily run. This autonomy gave the frontline leaders the confidence they needed to lead their teams with authority and allowed upper management to focus on improvements and growth.
• Shifted and trained the team to transition from a very reactionary work environment to one where they plan and optimize: “This was the hardest, but most rewarding experience of my career. The hardest part was the cultural shift. When I think back to how we were prior to the engagement, it amazes me how far we have come in such a short time. It was a major shift from ‘I will get it to you in a few days,’ to ‘you will have it by Wednesday.’ Our team’s culture was good before Definity came to help, but now with the new measurements and accountability in place, we have all stepped into our roles and truly feel responsible for the success of the company. It’s a great feeling to have and a great way to run a business,” stated Plant Manager, Brandon Buchleiter.
• Created a structure and systems around parts availability to the line: It was not a surprise based on how quickly the business had grown, that POE had an informal process for ordering materials based on need in place when the work began. The supply chain need was two-fold. First, a scalable supply chain was developed that could improve the situation near-term, and second, robust supply chain partnerships were designed to provide long-term incremental value to the business.
“As the CEO I always had the sense that I shouldn’t be in the weeds, but I soon realized managers shouldn’t be either. The transformation was sustainable and I am astonished at how much progress we continue to make every day. Although we had a tremendous ROI in terms of bottom line improvement and ability to manage customer demand while increasing our run rate 190% in less than a year, the excitement from the cultural transformation was the most rewarding part of this entire experience. To see the pride, the passion, the results, the quality, the feeling of accomplishment and the sense of ownership that is apparent in the employees now, that is what made the entire process worth it,” stated Ian Dickinson, “Two guys, twelve weeks, twenty trucks, transformed our business.”