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1. What is the assessment of operational changes that Joe Hinrichs has introduced at the Fredericksburg plant? Joe implemented a cell concept at the GM plant he managed. Our experience with cells is that they work very well when set up correctly with consistent processes and standard procedures. The employee will like the fact that they have freedom of movement, tasks are challenging and flexible. As is highlighted in the article the cell concept also supports lower inventory requirements for the same volume of output and the operator has the ability to transition to different tasks within the cell. A key to the success of the implementation is the design of the cell. The work structure has to be consistent and the machines designed to be the same for the cell. Eliminating the variability of doing completely different tasks while providing flexibility within the cell is a key component for success. The design flow of the cell process requires that as one cell is complete the inventory moves to the next one and there can¶t be interruption. This is where the flexibility of employees being able to work in different cells to cover for vacation and other lost time is key. There cannot be any lost or idle time waiting for parts or a machine. Joe also looked at idle time and how to eliminate this with combining jobs that overlapped. He looked at processes to leverage the overall workforce and resources. Overall the cell process does work well provided the due diligence is done on the planning and layout side. The employees have to buy into to process and the change can be significant to them. Some may feel threatened by the movement and flexibility aspect but once these issues are overcome this concept makes a lot of sense.
He took this challenge on with very little experience and certainly quite a bit of risk. He had only been at the plant a very short time and was making changes that could affect his career for a long time. GM was making a significant investment in the plant as well as Joe and he needed to produce. Once the employees saw the benefits of the cell processes they started to become enthusiastic and wanted to learn more. What is your assessment of the change process? Of Joe Hinrichs as a leader of the change process? We like the method of how Joe handled the change process. Historically when the demand falls to low levels the first thing that gets attacked is the labor force. Joe again engaged the union and workforce and was proactive in developing options which allowed the employees to either take vacation. Joe handled these very well and was still able to implement the overall cell plan. He involved the employees in the layout of the cells and engaged them for their input on installation of the machines. . Labor issues were always going to be a concern as changes to the process affected overtime pay and other benefits.2. training and adjusted schedules. Joe himself was very much a leader of the implementation of the cells. He engaged the employees along the way and made sure they understood what was being done and what the expectations were. One thing that we think he did which really gave the workers confidence in his leadership was to not take the easy route regarding layoffs during slow times.
Any option that does not sit well with labors will destroy all the hard work and effort he has put in to create an environment of trust and respect with the workers. Some of the benefits of using this option are: y Equipment will become more reliable. y Union will not be too displeased. Joe does not have to lay off any people. It will not make the press any more reliable or make any improvements in the future. What should Hinrichs do about the broken process? What criteria should he consider in making his decision? According to our analysis Joe should consider the following: y His relationship with workers and unions. Joe has to make sure that the option chosen will improve the current processes. union will not be too upset about it. Although there would be one less operator needed. Since Joe can show that the repairs are part of the new installation. While the press is being repaired and new die is installed. Although this option will result in 3 less operators/shift. This would be similar to what he did during the strike of 1996. This will make the press less susceptible to breakdown in future. . y Process Improvements.3. Joe can assign the workers to work on various improvement tasks. Longevity of the changes. The chosen option should provide the most optimal return. There are 50 workers projected to retire in the next 3 years and Joe can relocate the workers not needed to other areas. the break even analysis show that it would take 5 years to get any return on this investment. Why other options are not chosen? y Option 1 has no long term benefits and there is a chance of upsetting the unions. The chosen option should provide long term benefits Based on above criteria and the analysis we performed. we recommend to chose option3 while repairing the press with new parts. y During the downtime the workers can focus on QS 9000. including much needed documentation for QS 9000. y Option 2 has a high cost associated with it but no process improvements. y y Cost to benefit ratio.
.y Installation of die with option 1 as repair has all of the same problems as with option 1.