Note: At the time of this success story, Impact Dakota was known as Dakota MEP.
Profile: Bobcat Company
Founded in 1947 in Gwinner, ND, Bobcat Company is an American-based multi-national manufacturer of farm and construction equipment, part of Doosan Group of South Korea. Its American headquarters is in West Fargo, ND, USA. Its European headquarters is in Waterloo, Belgium. Its Hydraulic Business Unit moved from Bismarck, ND, in December of 2009. Production was started in Wahpeton, ND, in February of 2010 with 70 employees. They are now up to 120 employees. Bobcat’s Wahpeton location is an internal supplier to other Bobcat plants.
Challenge: Workforce Development & Engagement
In Bismarck, Hydraulics shared support functions with the other Business Units in the same factory. One of those functions was the Lean Promotions Office. Wahpeton has a fraction of the staffing Gwinner has, and is non-union, so Gwinner’s application of Lean didn’t fit Wahpeton’s needs.
Solution Implemented: LECP Training, Quick & Easy Kaizen
Lean Enterprise Certification Program (LECP) training provided a foundational skillset in the use of Lean tools and methods for the leadership in Wahpeton.
Impact: Improved Employee Participation, Reduced Costs
The instructors were not only knowledgeable, their experiences with the uniqueness of the businesses and people in this region made the application of our new skills much more practical.
For example, a pillar of the Toyota Production System is “Respect for People.” It’s disrespectful to waste the creativity of operators. They see firsthand the waste in the processes they work in and have ideas about how to make their work more efficient. They just need a methodology that gives them the right tools and training and many employees will implement improvement ideas on their own.
For Hydraulics that methodology is Quick and Easy Kaizen. Through QEK, operators are empowered to implement their improvement ideas within certain low risk parameters. In 2012 Wahpeton’s QEK program resulted in 243 implemented ideas, 60% participation, and an average 2.1 QEKs per employee with total annualized savings of $153,000 mostly through small improvements to reduce motion and waiting.