Navistar and the UAW have agreed to a second extension agreement, effective immediately. The UAW provided notice of termination and the temporary contract extension was terminated on October 16, 2018. Both parties have agreed to again reinstate all terms of the current collective bargaining agreements while negotiations continue. We remain optimistic that agreements can be reached in the short term that help us work as a team to competitively build our vehicles, run our plants and win in the market.
Last month, we had the opportunity to walk the Springfield Assembly Plant (SAP) floor with Jeff Webb, plant manager, and Mark Hernandez, senior vice president, Global Manufacturing, to learn about the updates in the plant over the last five years including the improvements in lean manufacturing. Below is a Q&A about their lean journey and what the future holds for the plant.
When did the lean journey begin at SAP?
Jeff: Our lean transformation began in October 2013. Our focus was and continues to be on eliminating waste – wasted time, wasted money and wasted space. Many people assume lean means cutting jobs and cutting costs. The reality is that lean is about becoming more efficient with our existing resources, so we can grow and evolve to meet our customer’s demands.
What recent updates have been made in the plant?
Mark: Millions of dollars have been invested in capital projects and improvements in order to increase capacity at SAP to manufacture the GM vehicles and our new International CV Series.
One of the most notable lean manufacturing improvements is the new Andon system. Andon was originally developed by Toyota as a way to call for help. Employees are encouraged to pull the Andon cord to notify supervisors of issues such as a broken tool or not having the right parts on the line.
I want to stress that lean manufacturing is not just about investing dollars; it also involves a culture change. For example, pulling the Andon cord can sometimes have a negative stigma – but it is a good thing. It activates the help chain, so problems don’t continue down the line. Before this system was installed the line was either on or off, now you can pull the Andon cord to keep the line moving smoothly.
Jeff: In addition to the physical transformation in the plant, you’ll see a lot of new faces on the floor. You’ll notice them walking around in green training vests. Hundreds of new employees have been added in the last year to support the production of the new vehicles.
What are the plans for SAP moving forward?
Mark: All our manufacturing facilities will continue their lean journeys with a focus on data. Manufacturing is getting much more sophisticated and transparent thanks to the ability to collect and report data on our work. At Navistar, we are collecting data now, but we need to refine the analytics piece to become more efficient and use it to our full advantage.
Just like how Facebook tracks our clicks and searches, we track our work on the plant floor. Facebook targets ads and we will eventually be able to target improvements on the line thanks to analytics.
Click here to read a Springfield News-Sun article that shares more about the Springfield Assembly Plant and its lean transformation.
Navistar and the UAW have agreed to temporarily extend all terms of the current collective bargaining agreements while negotiations continue. The current agreements were set to expire at 12:01 a.m. on October 1, but the parties agreed to the extension to allow for additional discussions on key issues. While the challenges are considerable, we remain optimistic that agreements can be reached in the short term that help us work as a team to competitively build our vehicles, run our plants, control our costs and win in the market.
This year across Navistar’s manufacturing plants and parts distribution centers, about 16,600 suggestions have been submitted by employees through our t-card process and just over 13,800 have been addressed. These suggestions often make operator’s jobs safer and more efficient.
The Springfield News-Sun published an article today about the lean transformation at our Springfield Assembly Plant over the last five years. Read the full article: “Navistar focused on efficiency in Springfield plant.”
We have one of the most extensive parts inventories in the trucking industry. Thanks to the employees at our eight parts distribution centers in the US and Canada, our customers have access to more than 1 million unique parts.
Learn more here.
In 2017, Navistar ranked as the third largest employer in Clark County in the Chamber of Greater Springfield top employers list. There are more than 1,800 workers at our Springfield Assembly Plant and thousands of retirees in the area.
Read more facts here.
Main table negotiations with Navistar and the United Automobile Workers are now underway. Check this site frequently to read about the progress. About 1,800 workers in Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas are represented by the contract.
“We feel great going into this negotiation,” said Leon Cornelius, director, Labor Relations at Navistar. “We’ve done a lot of work leading up to this and are well-prepared to work with our UAW partners to create a competitive contract.”
Main table negotiations with Navistar and the United Automobile Workers will begin on September 4, 2018. Read a message from Navistar’s senior vice president, Global Manufacturing.