11.2.18 — SAP Makes Top Ergo Improvement

About three years ago, Navistar launched a large-scale initiative to improve ergonomics across all its manufacturing plants. The goal was to make employees’ jobs safer and easier by reducing the likelihood of strains, sprains and other injuries.

“The manufacturing facilities were tasked with identifying and improving their top ten ergonomic issues associated with production,” said Rick Sherrer, engineering manager, Springfield Assembly Plant. “In Springfield, we immediately discussed the strap lock installation and cutting process because data showed it was a need and caused a high number of hand injuries.”

Today, the Springfield Assembly Plant has implemented new standards and tools for strap lock installation and cutting that have proven to be successful. There were 41 first aid reports and 14 recordable injuries in 2015-16 related to this work. Since the new standards and tools have been implemented, there have been just nine first aid reports and zero recordable injuries.

This was one of the most challenging ergonomic opportunities in Springfield because of the volume per operation, the quantity of operations effected and the variation of installation area. Some employees were required to install more than 1,000 strap locks per day.

“Reducing this high risk ergonomic issue throughout the plant was a team effort,” said Christine Rollins, senior manufacturing engineer, Springfield Assembly Plant. “The industrial engineering team identified and evaluated all the strap-lock operations, multiple plier-type cutters were trialed, and operator Nick Mun researched and suggested an automatic strap lock cutter.”

The final solution included three main actions:

  1. A force measurement study was conducted on commercially available plier-type hand cutters and the tool with the minimum cutting force was standardized plant-wide on all strap lock cutting applications.
  2. Six operations began using a battery powered strap lock cutter. The remaining operations required the use of the plier-type cutter because of space limitations.
  3. A standard of 500 strap locks per 8-hour shift was defined. There were 15 operations that required re-balance of work to reduce the number of strap locks.

“Ergonomics has become a key part of the manufacturing process, and the strap lock cutting project is a great example of the progress we’ve made,” said Mike Hom, vice president, Manufacturing. “It’s part of our culture at the plant and helps make sure Navistar employees return home, every evening, in the same condition they began their day.”

10.17.18 — Second extension agreement

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.

10.4.18 — SAP Showcases Lean

SAP

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.

10.1.18 — Temporary contract extension

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.

9.7.2018 — Did you know?

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.

9.5.2018 — Main table negotiations begin

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.”