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 the message below from Navistar’s senior vice president, Global Manufacturing.
Dear Navistar Stakeholder,
Navistar aspires to be the leading truck and bus company in the U.S. We manufacture commercial trucks, buses, defense vehicles and engines for customers across the country and the world. We can’t build our vehicles without the more than 12,300 dedicated employees who work hard to deliver world-class products and services every day in our plants, parts distribution centers and corporate offices.
Not long ago, we were struggling in the market due to a failed engine strategy. We know that there are no small mistakes in the trucking industry and there is no question that this set us back. Thanks in large part to the commitment of our employees and partnership with the United Automobile Workers (UAW), we accomplished a successful turnaround and became profitable again for the full year in 2017 for the first time since 2011.
But we’re not yet where we need to be. We are still last in terms of overall market share compared to our competitors. As we go through labor negotiations with the UAW this fall, Navistar’s goal is to create a contract that will help us increase competitiveness, gain back market share and keep jobs in the U.S.
Manufacturing in the U.S. is evolving, and Navistar also needs to evolve to meet our customer’s demands, be competitive in our industry and stay current with other manufacturers including those in the automobile industry. We expect topics such as lean implementation and product allocation to be part of our discussions with the UAW. We need the ability to fully implement efficient technologies, lean principles and ergonomic solutions to eliminate waste – wasted time, wasted material and wasted money – to improve safety and quality. The more effective we make production, the more competitive we will be with low labor cost countries.
Over the last five years, Navistar has made progress with lean operating principles. We’ve invested millions of dollars in our plants and parts distribution centers on items such as new Andon systems, simulated work environments and standardization of material delivery. But we can’t fall behind, and we can’t have major barriers to progress, especially as the transportation industry moves toward emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles and electrification.
Though significant for Navistar, the changes needed in this year’s UAW contract are not unprecedented. Other original equipment manufacturers have successfully been operating under lean principles for years and we need the ability to full implement those standards as well.
We will make every effort to achieve a competitive agreement for the 1,800 employees at our UAW-represented facilities affected by this contract.
Senior Vice President, Global Manufacturing