YKK Stories

YKK (U.S.A.) Inc.’s Business Process Excellence pillar helps improve the company’s business process and employee engagement

October 25, 2018
Author: YKK
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Today we continue our series on how YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. has benefited from its Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) program and how it has reached a $ 2 million savings plateau as a result of this program.

Kozue Childress is director of supply chain management for YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. in Macon, Georgia, and she is also the owner of the Business Process Excellence pillar.  This pillar includes employees from manufacturing, manufacturing operations, accounting, sales and supply chain management.

“The Business Process Excellence pillar breaks the silos between our departments, and it involves process improvement and employee engagement,” says Childress.

“One project that we worked on recently was an automotive project, which is being managed by Shanna Brown, the team leader for this project who is also master scheduling manager in the slide fastener plant.   She is getting help with this project from Kim Dover, forecasting and inventory planner; Mike Tucker, senior purchasing agent for the supply chain management purchasing group and Lee Chancey, section manager III for the slide fastener plant.   With this project, we focused on where we were spending money.  We then started having 10 minute conference calls every day between our sales operation, supply chain management, manufacturing operations and manufacturing.  We started doing this in January of 2018, and we made it official in April.

“We had communication in the beginning where purchasing knows that sales will be up this year, and they had close communication with sales to make sure we have enough supplies, and manufacturing prepared for increased business.

“Since we started meeting every day, things have become smoother with our automotive business process, and now we meet just three times a week.  Having communication regularly enables us to understand other departments, and we are able to fix things as a team. We appreciate Robert Stamps, vice president and business leader of YKK’s transportation fastening materials group, for letting us work with the automotive business group.

“Another project that we are working on involves reducing our defects.  We created a BPE (Business Process Excellence) zero defect team, which is run by Aaron Hamilton, section manager I for plastic fastener assembly; Angela Ingram, final packing manager for the supply chain management logistics group; Rodney Fox, manager of VISLON® assembly, and Tracy Spacek, production supervisor II for metal fastener assembly.  Every week, we have a competition between our metal fastener, VISLON®, and plastic fastener production groups to see who can make the most pieces with the fewest number of defects.  We are planning to continue this competition for six weeks.  The idea for this competition came up during a brainstorming meeting with our zero defect team.  We came up with this idea to improve employee engagement and to make better products.  Many of the employees appreciate the fact that we are trying to improve their processes.

“We also have a final inspection kaizen project that is being led by Corey Jones, national traffic manager for the supply chain management logistics group.  With this project, we are planning to improve the look of our final inspection packing area so that our inspectors will be proud of the products that they are inspecting, and we can show our customers when they have a plant tour of our facility that this is how we inspect and ship our products to you.

“We have made T-shirts for our inspectors, and I would like for the inspection area to have very bright colors like the makeup section in retail stores. I have also asked Dena Williams, sales promotion designer for YKK (U.S.A.) Inc., to come up with some designs for banners and for a showcase area.

“In addition to these projects, we are offering an Excel class to our machine operators and mechanics, which is being taught by Abby Yamaguchi, our senior staff accountant and business process excellence pillar’s employee engagement team leader at YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. in Macon, Georgia.  Our pillar believes in employee engagement, and it is one of the key factors for our success. Employee engagement means an emotional commitment and dedication from employees. When employees are engaged, they are all in, and they genuinely want YKK to be successful.  They are not just here to collect a paycheck; they truly want to be here. Engaged employees solve problems without us asking them to do so. They look for new process improvements.  They collaborate, and inspire others around them.

“Mike Larken, the Business Process Excellence pillar’s AquaGuard® leader, who is also director of production and scheduling, is working on improving the delivery of our AquaGuard® zipper to our customers with the help of Shanna Brown and Daniel Obayashi, national marketing manager.

“We appreciate Tony Green, director of manufacturing in the slide fastener plant, and Shane Herndon, section manager III for slide fastener assembly, for letting us work with the slide fastener group.

“With the TPM program we now have a relationship with each other, and every pillar member is so important to the success of every project.  All of us together can fix many things.  I think that TPM has changed my view of YKK.  It’s changed how I work.  The good thing is that it is a bottom up form of improvement, and it has resulted in a lot of positive changes.”