Eye on the Road
As most businesses expand, they are quick to show off their plans as they announce and thoroughly enjoy the hype associated with the opening of a new facility. Understandably, there is also a noted level of excitement about the project ahead. However, most are not looking past the immensity before them of embarking on a building project that is sure to encompass more time, talents and cash than anyone initially anticipates.
However, when Toyo Tires® decided to build its first North American manufacturing facility in 2005 roughly one hour north of Atlanta in White, Georgia, it took a slightly different approach. Not only did the firm appropriately deal with the excitement and nuances of preparing a production facility, it also embraced a true big picture perspective. Essentially, Toyo took the time to fully considering the many details that will take place after the facility opens.
As part of its proactive approach, Toyo North America’s Production Control Manager James T. Gambrel turned to his previous experience and contacted H. B. Maynard and Company, Inc. (Maynard®) to help ascertain that all of the right components for operational efficiency were in place at the onset. “Knowing the level of experience that Maynard would be able to bring to the table was the biggest advantage of having them involved with our project,” says Gambrel.
Staffing the Ranks
As a result, Maynard started on the job when Toyo had nothing more than a concrete slab in place. Maynard Vice President John Minnich first met with Toyo to talk about basic industrial engineering including labor standards, job descriptions, job evaluations, wage scales, etc. “The fact that Toyo decided to take this route shows their impressive level of forethought that should serve as an inspiration to others,” says Minnich.
"We are using the tools left from our Standards Project to assist us in evaluating machine capacity/cycle time issues as well as staffing evaluations."
With a continual eye on the future, Toyo had some very stringent expectations of each new hire, explained Maynard Senior Consultant Mike Piper. However, unlike many operations, taking this time was not a problem for Toyo. After all, by conducting and crafting job evaluations from the ground floor, the Maynard and Toyo representatives working together were not in a situation where they were attempting to tie-in with something already in place. “So many times we are trying to fix something that is broken or complement what is already in place,” says Piper. “Not having to work around these situations made it a possibility that we could do things right from the start.”
Minnich agrees adding, “Now what they have in place is a solid system that looks at skill, effort, responsibility and this allows us to create rankings that are technically stable.”
Engineering for the Future
After Toyo had its staffing concerns behind it, the team immediately turned to the development of one of the most crucial aspects – engineered standards for Toyo’s stock preparation and tire building operations. And, as most in the industry know these areas collectively account for the true heartbeat of any tire plant.
Kimberly Sims, Toyo Industrial Engineer, led the team charged with developing the standards. The first step in developing the standards, according to Sims, was to schedule the various components within its tire building process. “We wanted to be able to effectively juggle changeovers and still make sure that product would either meet or exceed consumer demands,” says Sims.
Next, the focus shifted to optimizing equipment staffing. Understandably, the goal here was to be sure that they were not stretching people too thin where product quality would suffer in any way. Toyo wanted to additionally put a system in place that would easily allot for flex labor to meet shifting requirements.
Other areas Toyo wanted to focus on included capacities, production-centric standard operation procedures as well as an array of cost analysis based on the engineered standards. “Among other things, the engineered standards help Toyo to identify non-value added time. There is a cost associated with running a machine, but there is a cost of downtime as well,” says Maynard consultant Jarrett Katawczik. “Our work measurements will help Toyo in this arena.”
According to Katawczik, a big part of the target was to make sure that Toyo had a working set of plans that could help with their effectiveness as they continued to grow. Fortunately, Toyo’s Gambrel, explains that the entire undertaking has been a success. “We are using the tools left from our Standards Project to assist us in evaluating machine capacity/cycle time issues as well as staffing evaluations.”
Taking a Team Approach
When developing standards and writing job evaluations, client commitment is crucial. According to Consulting Manager Mike Kaminski, in order to be successful, a project of this nature requires a team approach. “This is not something where one or two people are involved, a process is created, unrolled and everyone loves it,” he says. “There needs to be an understanding of all the challenges in the area, and the people impacted by the standards and job evaluations need to have confidence that the team considered all the necessary aspects of the job involved.”
Kaminski adds that the Maynard process is a very participative practice with a lot of input as far as what should and should not be in the engineered standards, job descriptions and job evaluations. “The goal is to have accuracy and buy-in from the workforce,” he says. “Whenever possible, being able to develop a relationship with people on the floor is crucial and takes the speculative nature out of the process.”