Though the practice of scrum is fairly new to Cambridge (has only been actively applied in three of our 56 year existence) it has already helped us formulate a new approach to goal setting and how we will ultimately achieve those goals. More importantly, we are using it to address safety practices and protocols within Cambridge, so that every one of our fellow employees makes it home at the end of the day.

After being introduced to the scrum concept (grouping agile thinkers together that stress constant communication to achieve complicated tasks and goals) in J.J. Sutherland’s book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, a group of Cambridge engineers volunteered to be trained in the practice by Toyota scrum expert Nigel Thurlow and apply it within the Cambridge walls, thus becoming our first four certified Scrum Masters. See their story and how their daily work has changed over the past few years.

To catch a glimpse of Nigel Thurlow’s on-site scrum training at Cambridge - make sure to check out our blog on his visit!

This blog was guest-written by Meg Brown, Director of HR at Cambridge Engineering. 

The goal was 10 applicants for each opening. In a tight labor market? There’s no question: this is the most difficult time to build engaged teams in a generation. There are so many interests competing for attention. From finding workers, to upskilling them -- how can we make sure we attract the right people in the first place? We’d have to be crazy to attempt it!   

Then call us crazy because we have supersized our recruitment pipelines and enabled historically low turnover. Through a combination of people-centric leadership and innovative recruiting/development programs, we have redefined the employer/employee relationship. 

Allow me to explain. 

Cambridge doubles production in the 3rd and 4th quarter, especially on our S-Series HTHV heaters, which naturally coincide with the colder weather. For many years we have surged with seasonal employees who spend 4-6 months working for Cambridge through our busy season. A few years ago we began hiring for cultural fit over experience, believing we can provide thorough in-house training. While that helped, we were still struggling to find talent quickly enough using staffing agencies to help bridge the gap. In 2018 with the crazy goal of 10 applicants for every opening the message was clear - we had to find a new approach to attract and retain talent.     

Enter Cambridge Unleashed. 

We realized there is real value in spending time at Cambridge - even if it is only for a short period of time. So we created Cambridge Unleashed, a new concept which allowed us to start telling our story - describing the value working here can bring to each and every one of us. This program is intended for anyone interested in learning, leading and launching their manufacturing career. 

Reading 2-Second Lean by Paul Akers is a conscious step we require for all full-time and seasonal workers. This continuous improvement methodology reinforces autonomy for each person to make their work processes, and by extension, their jobs better and easier. 2-Second Lean, though, follows each person home and extends beyond the walls of Cambridge. We hear time and again how someone recognized waste or something that bugged them at home and exclaimed “Hey, that’s a lean improvement!” Exposure and practice of this mentality is quick and effective, and can help a person make their own experiences better for their rest of their lives.

We’ve found that when our 20 “Unleashers” dove into the given opportunities they end up unlocking their potential, feeling appreciated and in control of their own workspace. Here are some real life examples:

  • Many Unleashers found courage they didn’t know they had and volunteered to emcee the morning meeting. 
  • Our team reached a company record breaking production level of 13 units a day.  
  • All 20 Unleashers jumped into our lean system making videos showing highlights of their improvements. 
  • Zero lost-time accidents through the entire busy season.

You might be wondering what happens at the end of the program? Where do these seasonal employees go after Unleashed? 

We realized quickly that if Cambridge Unleashed is a program for anyone who wants to launch their manufacturing career, then we had better figure out how to do it.  Many of our Unleashers came into Cambridge having never worked in manufacturing, and after 4-6 months with us they had learned the daily habits necessary to be a dedicated lifelong continuous improvement/lean maniac. What company wouldn’t want to hire them?!? We just had to figure out a way to tell their story. So we used video – a well loved tool often used at Cambridge. 

We created a launching process which allowed us to work with our Unleashers to determine their best next step at the end of the program.  Did they want to apply for our open positions and launch internally or did they want to look for a job somewhere else launching externally? Either way we were in it with them every step of the way. Those interested in internal launch applied for those openings, completed an interview process and were considered for any openings available. Those interested in external launch worked closely with us to create an introduction and highlight video they could use when they applied to other companies. We helped them update their resumes, adding a link to their video so any recruiter could see the amazing work they had done at Cambridge. Then to help get the word out we blasted their videos to our entire network, letting them know we had some Unleashed graduates who were seeking employment. 

All in all, we launched all 20 Unleashers into positions they are excited to have, many here at Cambridge and a few elsewhere. We smashed the goal – achieving an average of 20 applicants for each opening!   We are beyond thrilled with the results of Cambridge Unleashed. Can’t wait to do it again in 2019!

 

Bringing #GloryandDignity back to manufacturing.

It’s an aspirational concept, one that you might not associate with manufacturing. We see it every day, though, through the companies that share their stories with us when they visit our facility or our colleagues at trade events. The goal of lifting our industry to a higher standard by giving back to the community and to employees might not be intrinsic to all leaders - yet, more and more, we see shining examples of our friends in this business doing just that.

The Seating Matters team is generating tools and resources to save lives before and after pressure injuries through an Injury Prevention Program aimed at correct seating, training, maintenance and education of staff.

BCI is providing high-quality packaging solutions to their customers through a system of creating meaningful employment and skills training for 250 adults with disabilities.

A structure of independent and interdependent teams at Vibco allows individuals valued for their strengths to complement and grow with each other while working toward the same mission.

FastCap continues to share their own manufacturing improvement ideas through 2 Second Lean to inspire other organizations or to even just provide a simple solution to a problem they might be facing.

Remembering to fête the lines’ extraordinary output when we hit a 13 unit/day output (up from 8-9 units/day) while maintaining quality standards was essential. The service team is constantly praised by our contractor partners for their diligence and assistance through any issue in the field. The engineering department’s behind-the-scenes work designing custom, yet simple, solutions for our end users deserves its own standing ovation. Each Cambridge employee embodies the dignity factor, and as a whole, they bring glory to their work, our company, and the manufacturing industry.

Watch John’s speech from 2017 that helped us realize the #gloryanddignity mission!

 

Manufacturers of direct gas-fired heating equipment make different, and seemingly conflicting, claims about the efficiency of their equipment. Some claim 92%, others claim 100%; so which is accurate? Actually both numbers are accurate, if you understand the context for the claims. There are two terms used when referencing the efficiency of gas-fired equipment: combustion efficiency and thermal efficiency. Understanding the basis for those terms will help you to better understand how to apply this equipment. Combustion efficiency is a measure of how effectively the heat content of the fuel is transferred into usable heat. With direct gas-fired equipment, since there is no flue, all of the energy generated from the combustion process is transferred into the space being heated. In that sense, the direct gas-fired equipment can be considered 100% combustion efficient. However, not all of the energy from combustion produces sensible heat, or heat that can be felt as a temperature difference and is applicable for offsetting the heat losses in the building. Another byproduct of the combustion process is water. The heat required to vaporize this water is referred to as latent heat. Approximately 8% of the energy from the combustion process is used in the vaporization of water. In that sense, the direct gas-fired equipment can be considered to have a 92% thermal efficiency. While the latent heat is not considered usable for convective heating, it can be considered beneficial. The heating equipment is operating during periods when the outside air is colder. The colder outdoor air has less capacity to hold moisture, which results in lower specific humidity conditions (i.e. drier air) both outdoors and indoors. This is why many people use humidifiers indoors during the winter. The water vapor from the combustion process increases the specific humidity of the air delivered to the building through the heater. Since most buildings without other sources of moisture indoors have lower humidity levels during the winter, the additional water vapor from the combustion process can be beneficial to the indoor air quality conditions. There are currently no standards for testing nor agencies certifying the efficiency of direct gas-fired heaters. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifies in standards ANSI Z83.4 and ANSI Z83.18 that the conversion from sensible to total heat for direct gas-fired heaters is 0.92 (92%). This is based solely on the chemistry of the combustion process, since there are no other losses. So is direct gas-fired equipment 92% or 100% efficient? The answer is…Yes! It just depends on how you define it. If you have any questions or need to provide documentation on the efficiency of direct gas-fired heaters please feel free to contact the Applications Engineering department here at Cambridge and we will be happy to help.