From Nothing to Something :
Changing Work Culture through Continuous Improvement
Starting from reactive culture continuously in fire-fighting approach, tire section in our mining client has transformed to be a main player in terms of continuous improvement in the company. In accordance with the philosophy of continuous improvement, tire section has contributed in continuing improvement from one project to another. Two projects have been completed with many improvements made and creating a significant change to proactive problem solving and improvement approach.
Tire department managed to make this improvement activity as a place for intensive learning. They were successfully able to shape the continuous improvement program becoming more challenging, fostering good team work, and involving all stakeholders. Despite the increase of tire population following the addition of truck fleet in operations, tire department able to reduce the company budget plan for 2016 with saving in excess of $ 1 million as the result of the successful cost efficiency improvement.
The improvement ideas implemented are the result of the thorough analysis that was done using a structured problem solving approach by cross-functional improvement team which consists of tireman, tire group leader, planner, operations, and supply chain.
In the past the tire teams had tried to conduct improvement initiatives but without success. The improvement ideas often vanished before they implemented. They were not able to address the barrier faced in the process. The failure was believed to be caused by several factors such as:
Rotation of several members of the team including the team leader.
Changes in the company organization at the management level.
Team saw the improvement activities as a burden that is not productive and a waste of time. This was occurred as the result of the in-effective meetings and improvement activities.
Team felt comfortable with the current conditions although many facts indicate tire performance was not satisfying the management and operation team.
Management did not have focus on tire cost. Tire was overstock following high supply caused by downturn in coal mining business. It eliminates the sense of crisis from management on the tire usage.
Users, in this case the truck operator, did not realize the impact of unscheduled breakdown due to tire delays toward their productivity performance.
Tire section required fundamental changes in the working conditions to become more competitive and to create a true continuous improvement culture. The management was committed to support the establishment of improvement team so that the tire team able to continue the improvement initiatives previously discussed. The improvement started with a kick off meeting as well as setting target, scope, and boundaries for the improvement project. After training in how to apply a structured problem solving approach, the team brainstormed the problems and performed root cause analysis to be able to get a list of effective improvement plans.
In the same time an improvement facilitator from Relogica helps the team to perform effective problem solving activities in team approach. The facilitator coaches the team in developing work plan, conduct effective meeting, maintain good team work, utilize proper improvement tools and helps addressing any barriers. Some of the activities in ensuring the effective team activities are:
Personal touch to all levels of workers in tire activities from tireman, group leader, up to the manager to be involved and contribute to the improvement by providing data and facts on current situation and problems, any suggestion and ideas for improvement.
Take a field trip together with operation as the customer to look at the real conditions in the field and gather ideas for any problems (Gemba).
Conduct an internal review of current maintenance work practices being done in tire section, then compare it to maintenance standards derived from international reference, manufacturer reference, and the existing procedures in the company.
Get improvement ideas from the shop floor level (tire man and group leader). This is one way to strengthen the sense of ownership for improvement activities and results later on.
Communicate improvement activities to the management to update any progress and constraints faced by the team.
Strengthen team work by doing off-hour joint activities.
By doing these activities a fundamental change can be felt by employees. They started to notice that their activities are seen by the superiors. They are aware that they get the attention and support. Eventually, it forms a mutually supportive working condition to achieve the target expected by management.
The first improvement project (tire life improvement) is able to achieve 24% increase in the average tire life (from 3,833 hours in 2013 to 4,746 hours) in 2015. This success reinforces self-confidence and motivation to continue another improvement project.
In the second project, the team focused on the problems of tire spare management.
This second improvement also gives significant results where the cost of tire inventory at SCM can be reduced. Study on the tire specifications has been conducted and been monitored for a year, and the results obtained are well above expectations. In-spec tire life reaches over 5,000 hours if it is newly installed in rear position on the truck. This is a significant opportunity for the cost reduction initiative in the next 2-3 years. SCM and finance section were engaged to assist the calculation of long-term financial plan associated with the plan for using new tire to year 2019 with a new specification that guarantees a longer life.
All the things that have been described above changes the team’s perspective on the achievable tire life. Target tire life for over 5,000 hours is actually not just a dream. The team can prove that there is a wide-open opportunity to improve and they are motivated as a winning team to continuously strive to lift the target higher.