You’ve undoubtedly heard managers say “Our people make the difference.” While undoubtedly true, there aren’t often metrics to deal with the people side of manufacturing. So the people behind the continuous improvement of the GM Global Manufacturing System (GMS) are paying particular attention to human behaviors and how they affect vehicle quality. “There are 270 calibration areas in GMS and we have pretty much established the core requirements that make up the elements. What we did over the past year is say, ‘We have to take it to the next level,’ so we took a look at some things in terms of behaviors and deemphasized the administrative thing,” says Louis Farinola, manufacturing engineering director for GMS.
The GMS calibration teams are now focusing on how individual team leaders respond to andon cord pulls and how quickly and effectively they resolve each situation. “In the beginning, we might have measured if the andon cord and board worked. Now it’s getting to the next level of understanding how we are supposed to behave, what the role of the team leader is, how that leader is supporting the operator and things like that,” Farinola explains. During week-long audits at plants the GMS calibration teams pull the cords and monitor how those responsible react. Their findings are subsequently shared with the plant’s union and administrative staff for review.
Besides the revised andon standards, GM has also changed the way it measures layered audit implementation and follow through. When GMS began, the automaker lumped basic questions, such as “Does a layered audit program exist?” and “Does staff regularly participate?” into one section where a “green” passing grade would be given of any one of the questions was answered correctly. “You don’t get green for a layered audit now unless you have one, the plant staff does it, there are countermeasures in place and there is follow-up. You have to get five out of five to get a green,” Farinola says.
These minor changes to GMS have resulted in a dramatic drop in the overall achievement levels of GM’s manufacturing organization, with some plants dropping as much as 20% on their overall achievement scores. Farinola says GM’s senior management was expecting the plant scores to drop as a result of the changes and now wants every plant to achieve an 80%-plus score on GMS by the end of the year, which Farinola says is achievable.—KMK