Truckers the world over have come to recognize the red and white KW logo on Kenworth's trucks as an emblem of quality. Now, Kenworth's plant in Chillicothe, OH, symbolizes quality as it receives Quality Magazine's 2006 Large Plant of the Year Award.
Kenworth Truck Co., a division of PACCAR Inc., is a leading manufacturer of heavy- and medium-duty trucks. Kenworth is the recipient of the 2005 J.D. Power and Associates awards for Highest in Customer Satisfaction for both Over the Road Segment and Pickup and Delivery Segment Class 8 Trucks, and for Heavy Duty Dealer Service. It also is the recipient of the 2005 J.D. Power and Associates awards for Highest in Customer Satisfaction in the Conventional Medium Duty Truck Segment and for Medium Duty Dealer Service.
The Chillicothe plant builds the full range of Kenworth's on-highway class 8 heavy-duty trucks. The models built cover applications in various industries including aerodynamic models with sleepers for long-haul applications, heavy-duty vocational models for dump trucks and mixers, models with good visibility and maneuverability for short haul and delivery, classic models with numerous chrome and customization options, as well as some off-highway models with six-wheel drive and dual front-steer axles.
"We use a mixed-model production process so that any model can be produced at any time," Scott Blue, plant manager, says. "Every truck coming down the assembly line is different from the next. Our market approach is to provide trucks designed specifically to meet the customer's requirements. We are very customer driven; there are thousands of options available. This requires a very sophisticated system to ensure that all the right parts are in the right place at the right time. Our assembly teams are well trained to adapt to the changing assembly requirements."
From its mission statement, several of Kenworth's core operating values that helped it win the Quality Plant of the Year award include:
-Produce high-quality, customized products and services, on schedule, that exceed the expectations of both internal and external customers.
-Require strong financial and
-Improve processes continuously.
Paperless Build Paper is one of the innovative technologies applied at the Chillicothe plant to drive quality improvements. "With a computer terminal or tablet PCs placed in most every station of the Chillicothe assembly plant, we have gone virtually paperless," says Jeff Denbow, manager of warranty and process continuous improvement. "Assembly operators no longer have to look at a piece of paper to install the correct part. Instead, each truck is built from electronic Build Paper, which not only ensures the correct part number, but by a simple double click, the operator can access electronic blue-prints of any part."
The plant also demonstrates world-class quality processes through the development and use of electronic data collection. "This is a computer-based system for signing off production and inspection task completion during assembly," says Jon Schobelock, quality manager of continuous improvement services. "There are approximately 400 tasks per truck verified with electronic data collection. It also is used to record, trend and analyze chassis specific data. Electronic data collection is a plant-wide system for collecting product quality information and providing specific assembly location quality tasks to be completed throughout the assembly process. Where the plant once relied only on anecdotal information to make decisions, this system provides the empirical data to analyze processes and drive improvements.
"We implemented a standardized defect coding structure that eliminated variation and added continuity to the collection of quality data," Schobelock says. "This consistency facilitates cross-plant analysis to drive process improvements and identify best practices. An added innovation we applied was the standard use of radio frequency PC tablets for data collection, which allows us to go wireless throughout the entire facility with real-time status."
The plant has improved manufacturing processes through the use of new technology. The Kenworth T2000 model uses an automated assembly fixture, robotic adhesive application and a radio frequency identification controlled conveyance system for assembly of the cab structure. Design and manufacturing partnered through the design process to develop this extremely efficient assembly process.
An extensive effort also has been undertaken to significantly improve measuring equipment and torque control throughout the facility. Substantial investments have been made in direct-current tooling on critical applications. All tools have been networked so that run-down information can be accessed, torques trended and predictive maintenance performed as required. The Chillicothe plant has improved the application of existing measurement and test services technology. The development and enhancement of Kenworth's comprehensive chassis-
specific electrical testers allow immediate quality verification in-station, and associated systems allow operators to download gage panel programming unique to each truck.
New quality technologies and processes at the plant have resulted in improved productivity. Chillicothe conducts a number of High Impact Kaizen Events (HIKE) each year. Kaizen HIKE events are made up of usually less than a dozen people from multiple departments and disciplines including operators from multiple shifts. A structured format uses Six Sigma and lean manufacturing concepts to make improvements. Some of the structure includes process mapping, fish bone diagrams, flow diagrams for materials, flow diagrams for operators, identifying waste and non-value-steps, and past lessons learned. Pre-established goals are set in such areas including improvements in safety, quality, inventory and productivity. These HIKE events have been extremely successful at the Chillicothe plant. Some of the HIKE improvements in 2005 even included the reduction of operators unnecessarily walking more than 8,000 miles annually.
These technology and process improvements, including the extensive use of Six Sigma, have boosted bottom-line profits and competitive advantage. "PACCAR has not only provided training, such as Six Sigma Black Belts and Green Belts, within our company, but often also includes the training of supplier personnel," says Jack Corder, quality assurance manager. "By closing more than 20 projects in 2005, we were able to exceed the aggressive Six Sigma goals set at the beginning of the year, resulting in the savings of millions of dollars."
In addition to these continuous improvement activities and innovative technologies-which help to improve processes-they also help to reduce production scrap, rework and warranty costs at the plant.
Human error is a factor that Kenworth takes seriously. "When a process is ‘people dependent,' it is extremely difficult to control, but when we do have it, we have a couple of different ways to address it," Corder says. "We have red alerts that identify the error and where the error came from. We then respond back and try to fix it with employee input. We don't care if it is an employee issue, a tool issue or a design issue; it is just a process component that is improved."
Tangible steps have been taken to reduce defects and improve product quality to internal and external standards. "The plant performs daily audits on a representative sample of completed units, using a weighted scoring system." Corder says. "The daily plant process is validated three times annually via
PACCAR product quality audits. Each truck's quality score is placed on shared files daily as they are completed for immediate feedback to all employees, including pictures and trend analysis in order to prioritize immediate quality improvement efforts. Through full employee involvement and the continuous advancement of innovative quality systems, the Chillicothe plant was able to again set a record in 2005 by achieving the plant's best monthly quality score ever in November." The plant also was externally recertified to ISO 9001: 2000 in July 2005.
Employee training helped attain these scores. "Assemblers specializing in areas will work with new employees for a minimum of two weeks to analyze how accurate they are at following work instructions, working safely and how they use the computers," says Joe Zitzelberger, director of manufacturing development. "There is a training database for critical tasks and an employee who is going to be moved to one of these critical tasks has to pass training within the task program. We routinely perform audits directed by our manufacturing engineering department on our employees' expertise in critical tasks. It is the flexibility and dedication of the Kenworth Chillicothe work force that has made our quality improvements possible."
Innovative continuous improvement activities called 10-3-10 projects are conducted at the plant. This process uses the top-10 identified quality concerns, and a team including operators in truck assembly target action plans to resolve the concern with temporary fixes within three days, and to make a permanent solution effective within 10 days. The Chillicothe employees successfully improved quality processes through more than 85 documented projects in 2005. This is another way that operators and technicians play a role in the successful implementation of new quality technologies and strategies.
Incoming parts and the suppliers that deliver them are a key element to quality innovation as well. The plant has implemented an on-site supplier program, which provides direct links to supplier facilities and immediate supplier assistance for quality issues. Through achieved productivity and quality improvements, the Chillicothe plant was able to add sufficient supplier technicians to enhance this activity.
In order for the plant to be a leader in world-class quality processes, the value chain has to be considered from beginning to end, from the supplier, through the assembly plant and to the customer. PACCAR works with suppliers to achieve goals such as 50 parts per million, Six Sigma development, and even invests in equipment purchases at suppliers if it adds value and improves quality to the plants. Capital investments also are targeted at the plant.
A multimillion-dollar robotics painting system has been installed at the plant, which will improve quality through more consistent placement and thickness of paint. Such robotic paint systems can reduce paint usage by more than 30% and can reduce the time to paint trucks by more than 40%.
The plant has been able to develop world-class quality processes by embracing the concept of continuous improvement combined with innovative technologies. "We have accelerated quality improvements even through build-rate increases, multiple shift operations, plant expansion and new equipment installation," says Blue. "Kenworth quality sells our trucks. Our quality backs the Kenworth brand. Obviously quality is a major reason why Kenworth sells products at a premium price. We have to sell a good product that lasts longer and performs better to be the world's best." Q
For more information on Kenworth, visit their Web site: www.kenworth.com.
-Products: Manufacturer of heavy and medium-duty trucks
-Plant Location: Chillicothe, OH
-Plant Production Start: 1974
-Number of Plant Employees: 1,600
-Production Schedule: 3 shifts, 5 days per week
-Certification: ISO 9001: 2000
-Shop Floor: 300,000+ square-feet