Jul 24, 2006

Extreme plant makeover - a diary

It started when Richard Kunst, VP for Continuous Improvement at La-Z-Boy’s Residential Group, issued the following invitation to readers of his July 3rd e-newsletter, “Lean Thoughts”:

We need your assistance to enhance and improve our Dayton Tennessee facility. This will be a one week long learning experience where the model is simply “LEARN, LEAN and APPLY”. We are planning to host the event in the week commencing July 31, 2006. Come and participate to help accelerate the conversion towards world-class at this facility. This goes beyond traditional 5S, we need help implementing FIFO lanes, Supermarkets, Kan Ban systems, Pokeyoke, Visuals, the list goes on …

The Dayton La-Z-Boy campus has 25 acres under roof and contains 4 factories (2 upholstery facilities, a wood supply centre and a metal supply centre). We employ over 2000 employees, all of whom are committed change agents and passionate about positive change. Wanna have fun and learn at the same time? Why not schedule your vacation and attend the event at the same time?

Why the need?
The journey has already started at the facility. All of the critical Value Streams have been mapped and exciting projects have been identified. Quite frankly, our through-put capability is not sufficient to satisfy our customer demand. Our folks are tired from working 6 days per week and we cannot recruit and train folks fast enough to satisfy our capacity requirements. They NEED YOU !!!

The Vision
We are already working hard to develop our homework assignments across the campus. We are hoping that at the conclusion of our workshop week that we will be able to increase through-put by at least 10% and dramatically reduce our supporting inventory.

We think that this venue will be an excellent opportunity to network and leverage the tools we have developed within the consortium. Just think you can personally contribute to making a North American industry sector not only survive but thrive. As we continue to develop the agenda we will be inviting in suppliers … so you can learn from them and try their products.

What you are going to find is a great Lead Team on the site that is welcome a receptive to new ideas. They are a genuinely hospitable group and a great joy to work with. They truly understand the challenges of today’s economy and the need for change. In essence I am hoping to make this a working conference … you have all attended conferences and heard the “Rags to Riches” stories and even stolen some great ideas … now is your chance to implement sustainable change.

We are working on some additional surprises that will benefit all of us. Each day we will begin with a short training session and then be dispatched to apply our learning’s. At the conclusion of the day, we will host a de-brief to communicate our success and benchmark best practices

Starts at the top ,right? We have it. Many of the senior leaders of the corporation will be parking their titles for a week and donning coveralls to assist our folks in this exciting transformation. Don Butcher, the campus Leader, has committed that each employee will commit 1 hour of their time during the week towards the Extreme Plant Makeover. Our challenge is to not impact current production... remember, we are capacity constrained

With over 2000 employees and 25 acres under roof you can realize the challenge I am going face in doing this facilitation. I am asking you to help facilitate, learn, assist in implementation and have fun while at the same time helping one the most well recognized brand names blossom. Just imagine the impact of change you can deliver.

“Lean Reflections” will be acting as a collection point for experiences throughout the week’s event. Participants at Dayton, as well as folks from La-Z-Boy’s other facilities will be able to tap into the excitement. We hope regular readers will comment and add their expertise. You can contact Richard at RKunst@la-z-boy.com.

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