Culture Powers Business™

POWERS adds $1.2 million to wind tower manufacturer’s bottom line, slashing overtime by 50% while improving productivity and efficiency

POWERS partnered with an industry-leading wind tower manufacturer to identify and quantify opportunities to improve the systems, processes, and leadership behaviors aligned with their previously established cultural values.

Project Overview

POWERS partnered with an industry-leading wind tower manufacturer to improve the systems, processes, and leadership behaviors aligned with their previously established cultural values.

Among the challenges, the client lost 20% of its planned volume mid-year by failing to meet monthly production requirements for its single-largest customer while consuming excessive overtime (the previous year’s overtime for direct hourly employees stood at 35.8%). Their customer wanted to increase volume, but instead, they were taking production away due to the poor performance.

Our Discovery process uncovered that their production MOS was poorly managed and underutilized. Departments were operating in silos with no planned or prioritized sequencing to support downstream activities starving them of materials. Management responded with increased overtime. A noticeable lack of organization and accountability at shift start each day led to high startup times. Turnover was high across the organization but highest among supervisors and leads.

Our approach was to strengthen their culture and grow their frontline leader capabilities through training and coaching while retooling the operation processes to achieve the plant’s goals.

To specifically address turnover, POWERS constructed an adaptable onboarding process to acclimate new leaders
to their culture, ensure a good fit, and meet their ISO requirements. In-Depth Reading Expand

POWERS partnered with an industry-leading wind tower manufacturer to identify and quantify opportunities to improve the systems, processes, and leadership behaviors aligned with their previously established cultural values. Our purpose was to develop an approach that addressed these opportunities and help retool the operations systems, and train and coach the management team in the roles and responsibilities required to achieve the plant’s goals.

Among the challenges, the site failed to meet monthly production requirements for its single-largest customer while consuming excessive overtime. In addition, the customer wanted to bring additional volume to the site, but instead, they were taking production away due to poor performance. As a result, the site lost 20% of its planned volume mid-year.

We reviewed the production Management Operating System (MOS). We found that 42% of the required 12 fundamental elements did not exist or were perceived not to exist, an additional 53% needed upgrades and enhancements necessary to be effective, and only 5% of what was, or was thought to live in the system, was used effectively and as designed.

Production departments ran as silos without a way of prioritizing work to support downstream activities. For example, one department selected the easiest items to make rather than working on the planned sequencing, which starved two downstream departments of material. Management responded by increasing the number of hours worked per day, including Saturdays, rather than address the sequencing problem. As a result, the previous year’s overtime for direct hourly employees stood at 35.8%.

There was a noticeable lack of organization and accountability across much of the plant at shift start each day. Some departments did not start production activities for as long as 90 minutes after shift start times. The Director of Operations for the Division said about this plant, “We fall behind on Monday morning and play catch up for the rest of the week.” 

Turnover was high across the organization, but it was highest among supervisors and leads. In addition, several leaders had stepped down from their leadership positions before the engagement to return to the hourly ranks.

The client asked POWERS to help strengthen their culture and grow leader capabilities on the frontline while improving the operation. As a result, we constructed an onboarding process to acclimate new leaders to the business and ensure a good fit from the start. The process is adapted for each new leader and is being built to fit their ISO requirements.

On the operations side, we began the project by implementing startup scorecards and checklists and reducing startup times from 90 minutes to 15 minutes across the plant, an improvement of 83%.

We implemented Daily Schedule Controls, which improved direct labor hours per tower by 9%. 

In addition to helping focus every employee on their production goals for the day, employees no longer “stretched out” their work across longer hours as they had in the past. As a result, the plant achieved a 25% improvement in efficiency, reducing to 9 hours what had taken more than 12 hours per employee.

We worked with the site to significantly reduce overtime by limiting the number of hours per day that workers could be on shift, creating a requirement that only the plant manager could approve overtime, and eliminated plantwide Saturday workdays.

These actions have resulted in a 50% reduction in overtime which had a positive $1.2 Million impact on the bottom line based on the 12 months immediately preceding this project. Additionally, the site is meeting its weekly and monthly production targets now that the MOS tools have been implemented.

Short interval follow-up and feedback are now a part of the rhythm in production. Leaders from leads to the plant manager have regular conversations with frontline workers about meeting their production targets, and supervisors have visibility of the plan each hour.

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