Page 4: Production
The Quality pillar is based on transferring Jaguar’s already existing quality standards to the Halewood plant. This involved creating consistency across the production process so that, for example, every shift would be working the same way. At the same time, emphasis was given to reducing time spent on activities that do not add value to the manufacturing process. Line operators were given responsibility for identifying continuous improvements that could be made. Operators were organised into smaller teams working with a group leader. These groups have been given considerable responsibility for identifying a need for change and then driving it through. By being given experience of production methods in Jaguar’s leading edge plants in the Midlands, Halewood operators and group leaders learned more about the changes required.
The Centres of Excellence pillar was seen as the key driving force in changing people’s thinking. Bringing a large plant like Halewood to the required level of performance in a single leap would have been too great a task, so the concept of ‘Centres of Excellence’ was born. Under this, manufacturing improvement could be made first within smaller areas through close co-operation and teamwork.
As the established Centres of Excellence demonstrated progress, the concept was rolled out across more and more areas, until all the Centres of Excellence linked together and standards across the whole plant were transformed. Initially, just five showcase Centres of Excellence were established in March 1999. Each participating workgroup took responsibility for generating improvements through a specified series of actions, including:
- standardised work processes
- improvements to component delivery at line-side
- a ‘right first time’ approach
- a ‘best-in-class’ vision for general housekeeping.
The most obvious difference that this created was better cleanliness and tidiness. Line-side ‘cardboard cities’ were cleared away, as new racking and packaging – some designed by the operators themselves – was introduced to improve delivery to the production lines and to ease component picking. Benches and lockers were relocated into purpose-built rest areas and better floor surfaces were laid where necessary. In one of the initial Centres of Excellence, the entire working area, including overhead conveyor systems, was completely rearranged to a much more efficient layout designed by the section operators themselves, aided by engineering colleagues.
Efficiency and quality
The improvements in efficiency and quality generated such enthusiasm that by the end of 1999 Centres of Excellence were established for 30% of the workforce. By the time Escort production ended in July 2000, the concept had been extended throughout the plant.
Centres of excellence not only led to dramatic increases in productivity at Halewood, but also to increased pride and commitment within the workforce.
The Culture change programme was the third pillar. This involved over-hauling existing attitudes and ways of working to create an environment in which employees were encouraged to take ownership so that they became involved in managing the process of continuous change revolving around ‘lean production’. Implementing the Culture change programme involved creating a series of workshops for managers, union representatives, supervisors and line workers based on creating a new environment based on participation and empowerment. These workshops communicated the concept of the ‘Halewood Difference’ programme, based on supporting employee involvement in decision-making about production and production processes.