Page 5: Continuous improvement in action
Leyland Trucks has clear targets for continuous improvement and clear processes for building teams and encouraging involvement. Kaizen describes all those processes that involve Leyland's people in day-to-day small step improvement. 'The culture at Leyland in terms of the pride that the employees take in being the best is unique. A good example of this process occurred in May 2006 at the vehicle finishing part of the plant. This involved a High Impact Kaizen Event (HIKE) where six pairs of project leaders were chosen to work with employees in this area. Each member of the HIKE team wore a brightly coloured 'high visibility jacket' and they examined every area of work, talking to everyone on the section in an informal but systematic way. They encouraged everyone to identify workbased problems and possible solutions. Staff got together at working lunches to discuss work issues. Overall, the idea was to involve everyone so there would be no surprises. A senior manager was also on hand to work as a coach, helping and supporting the HIKE team.
The HIKE was an outstanding success because of the improvement culture at Leyland. At the end of the project the team leader stated that 'the culture at Leyland in terms of the pride that the employees take in being the best is unique. You only have to spend a week at Leyland to see why they are number one: the employees.' More than 200 ideas for improvement were suggested by ground-level employees. The changes they suggested led to:
- a reduction in truck hours of over 17%
- 20% reduction in line-side materials (inventories)
- 23% reduction in walking (the distance that employees had to cover to carry out their work 57 miles per day in total).
At Leyland, over 10% of the 1,000 workforce consists of qualified continuous improvement practitioners. These people run and monitor progress through Six Sigma.