This post was guest-authored by Doug Eisenhart, VP of Sales, Service and Marketing at Cambridge Engineering.

How do you answer "What do you do?" 

Changing perspective might be your game changer. It certainly was ours.

“Helping Leaders Create Better Working Environments for Hard Working People” is the message on the home page of our website. It signals for the reader, the answer to the question, “What is it that you do?” For years, we answered that question by saying that we are an HVAC manufacturer. Technically, that is true - however, “What we do” is help business leaders support their people by delivering a system along with our equipment that creates comfort and well-being for an organization’s most valuable asset – their people.

Leaders support their people through comfortable indoor temperatures? How?

Facility and operational leaders can make an impact on an employee's health and employment satisfaction by focusing on the quality of the environmental conditions in which they are working. In our HVAC world, it’s about providing fresh outside air ventilation for improved indoor air quality (IAQ) to evenly heat manufacturing and warehousing spaces during the winter months and to provide cooling during the summer months. To provide an example, in our own manufacturing facility, we know the toll that the hot and humid St. Louis summers have on our people and are taking the steps to install and operate a two-stage (Indirect/Direct) evaporative cooling system to lower temperatures in our factory. These evaporative cooling and ventilation units will boast a dramatic operational cost difference compared to traditional mechanical or DX cooling systems, but that is merely a perk to making the plant temperature more comfortable for our employees. More comfort translates into more joy at work. More joy means more people engagement, more employee genius and more fun.

The difference between “What you do?” versus “Who you do it for?”

In Patrick Lencioni’s book "The Advantage,” he challenges business leaders to invest significant time in the development of organizational health. Patrick states, “an organization’s health trumps all strategy.” We agree wholeheartedly. While we work on sales and technological strategy, we recognize that our work on organizational health is first and foundational.

We talk about organizational health frequently. We invest in organizational health continuously through our lean methodology that includes daily meetings with the whole organization and a time commitment made to improving things every day. The organization blocks time out for everyone to work on improving their job daily. This time commitment to improvements as a daily rhythm puts people in contact with one another to solve problems and collaborate on solutions.  Whether a process improvement, safety improvement or product improvement, we are working to improve the quality of our customer’s experience with our brand. Ultimately, a better working environment translates into superior quality and performance of our products for our customers. One’s working environment can have a big impact on the organization.

We welcome business leaders to come visit us in Chesterfield and share your great ideas on how you are investing in better working conditions for people. Come and see us and let’s continue the conversation.

"My passion is to restore Glory and Dignity back to US Manufacturing."

This ambitious statement was first articulated by our CEO, John Kramer, during a lean exposure trip to McElroy Manufacturing and Tulsa Tube Bending in 2017. Since then, it's become our mantra at Cambridge, demonstrating what we we all know is true: that the people working within the manufacturing industry are elevating perceptions and creating a huge impact on the overall national GDP. And we need to celebrate them.

Restoring glory and dignity may feel to some like it's too aspirational, too much to take on, but it is in fact very achievable. It's the little things that add up: sharing grateful appreciation to co-worker on the line, providing the opportunity for financial wellness by offering Dave Ramsey's program to employees, cooking birthday breakfasts and so much more. 

Follow #GloryandDignity on Facebook. LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter to see the movement in action. 

You can probably already think of a million examples of how you've seen glory and dignity being restored at your work or how you've become more of a "whole being" because of an opportunity given to you. Tell us your story. Help us create this movement. Tag these instances on social with the hashtag #gloryanddignity, so we can celebrate with you and others can be inspired.

Cambridge has recently decided to test the Andon strategy from the Toyota Production System in conjunction with the lean manufacturing already being practiced at our shop. Andon is a popular form of visual management used in lean, designed to alert operators of problems as they occur in order for corrective action to be taken immediately. Originating from the Jidoka methodology used in Toyota’s production system, the system empowers employees to recognize problems and take initiative to stop the workflow without waiting for their superiors to do so. 

In most cases, an operator would pull the “Andon Cord” - a rope located above the manufacturing line which signals to everyone that a problem has been detected in a specific location on the line. Because of its benefits and empowerment to employees, Cambridge decided to adopt its own form of Andon.

Instead of using a typical Andon Cord, we chose to use the Voxer App.  Voxer is a “walkie talkie-like" app that can be downloaded on smartphones or computers. This app was chosen because, unlike the traditional Andon method, it allows various forms of access to the individuals working the line. However, if expectations are not set clearly on how corrective action should be taken as problems arise, Cambridge will not be able to utilize the full potential of everyone’s ability to help.

Before alerting all operators of an issue, we set up parameters to follow. If an operator can fix the problem in less than 10 minutes, the operator should attempt to solve the problem by his or herself. If the problem will take more than 10 minutes to fix, the operator is responsible to use Voxer to alert other employees for help. 

We also felt it important to set up certain levels of response. The supervisor, team lead and operations engineer are the first to assess the situation when called upon. If they cannot fix the problem, it continues to a higher level of support including engineering, supply chain, etc. If this level cannot fix the problem, it continues to an “all hands on deck” level of support.

The S-Series line is the first place to test Andon because it is an area in the shop that has an actual flow of work happening from one operator to the next. Unlike the other lines, the S-Series line has a takt time of 60 minutes per station when building a heater.

“Andon is about responding to issues immediately, finding the root cause of the issue, and putting a permanent corrective action in place so that the issue never occurs again”, states Cole Drussa, Operations Engineering Manager.

By fully adopting Andon, Cambridge also has the ability to document problems that happen on a daily basis. The data produced from Andon gives the engineering department knowledge of the frequency and severity of problems that interrupt the workflow.

Overall, the goal of Andon at Cambridge is to remove anything that inhibits flow.  Quality problems will be brought to the surface to be identified, the root cause will be established, and a final solution to the problem will ideally be found.  Through Andon, Cambridge plans to document and fix problems permanently. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

We had the privilege of welcoming Nigel Thurlow, Chief of Agile at Toyota Connected to Cambridge to train us on the fundamentals of how Scrum, Lean and Agile all work together in a beautiful equilibrium. As many of our Scrum teams are off and running, this was a great opportunity to review and realign to keep the momentum going. Watch the video below to see how we took advantage of having Nigel onsite for 8 hours!

To find out more about the initial Scrum training that Cambridge sought out from Nigel, make sure to see our previous blog post on Learning Scrum - The Toyota Way!

 

 

This post was guest-written by our friend in lean and life, Martin Tierney, from Seating Matters in Northern Ireland. In case you missed it, you can experience the amazing things Martin and his team are doing with lean in our blog post.

 

I recently visited Cambridge engineering to learn from their awesome team following their visit to Seating Matters in Ireland. We, too, are in manufacturing and wished to visit Cambridge to learn how they’ve implemented lean, developed their culture of respect and care for their colleagues and grown a successful business as a result. 

This video only gives 5% (or less!) of the lessons I took away from visiting Cambridge. Their unique blend of hard work, creativity, respect for people, clever project management and an impressive drive for growth is something that cannot be bottled into a 5 minute clip. 

They are truly bringing glory and dignity back to manufacturing. Their people and their leadership have created something truly special.

 

The first stop on the International Lean tour leading up to the Global Lean Leadership Summit was at Seating Matters in Northern Ireland. Just an hour and a half drive from Belfast in Limavardy, this company is transforming the future of healthcare seating for elderly and disabled persons.

We could go on and on describing what we saw – from their Lean improvements to their company culture – but we figured we would show you instead!

Everyone is Measuring to Target

To make sure that the daily throughput is met – Seating Matters has implemented a series of checkpoints and signage to keep a live tabulation of progress to goal.

They Made the Morning Meeting their Own

One of the best approaches to Lean is making it your own – building on what you’ve seen work at other companies and adjusting it to meet your goals and to inspire your team members. Seating Matters does an incredible job of being transparent in their progress and giving everyone an opportunity to discuss any struggles or successes they are encountering.

Their Lean Improvements are Everywhere!

Why didn’t we think of these?

The Video Cameras turned on us!

We had such high praise to give to the Seating Matters team – make sure to check out the observations video that they made while we were there!

 

As Cambridge progresses in using the Scrum framework across different projects and teams, we are always looking for opportunities for continued learning. When the chance came to travel to Dallas, Texas, to learn Scrum - The Toyota Way, from Nigel Thurlow, the Chief of Agile of Toyota Connected, we couldn’t pass it up!

Though Nigel Thurlow still stresses the importance of quality improvement and waste reduction - he is now focused on building and coaching high-performing teams and spreading the impact of Lean & Agile Leadership (reference: LinkedIn).

Watch the highlight reel to feel the passion of Nigel and our fellow seminar attendees! 

 

 

When Mr. Ritsuo Shingo - whose father developed the process of SMED (Single Minutes Exchange of Die; a literal translation) - visited Cambridge last week, we were treated to an overview of how the process was implemented to be part of the famed Toyota Production System. To watch a brief summary of his presentation to Cambridge employees and Lean tour guests, click here. The operational engineers at Cambridge, having been familiar with SMED through their Lean training, found the first two opportunities to perform our own SMED events in the M-Series and S-Series lines.   First, the facts. Our S-Series testing process was clocking in at 2 hours and 13 minutes from start to finish. To be able to review the whole process, we set up a tripod equipped with an iPhone to record the tester and equipment as they would naturally unfold. Then, a group of engineers, team leads and testers watched the footage to identify areas of improvement, leading to some easily obtainable adjustments such as moving one test to another line and using battery powered tools rather than hand tools for adjustment. Five minutes have been shaved off so far in this SMED event, though other opportunities for improvement were noted and are in differing stages of implementation. Similarly, the M-Series SMED event was able to cut 9 minutes from their testing time - from 2 hours and 48 minutes to 2 hours and 39 minutes. All in all, we’d call these first two SMED events for Cambridge a success as total process time was cut down. We are looking forward to conducting a Kaizen event to improve the process of Design through Cutting.

For the second time in the past year, Cambridge has had the honor of hosting Mr. Ritsuo Shingo on his tour of a few American companies who are on their Lean journey of continuous improvement. Not only did he spend time speaking to Cambridge employees and our Lean tour guests, Mr. Shingo was able to “Go and Watch” (his advice to be an engaged observer, rather than “Go and See”) several companies around the St. Louis area including World Wide Technology, Koller-Craft, Ameren and The Gund Company. Hailing from the first family of SMED (Single Minutes Exchange of Die; a literal translation), Mr.Shingo and his father, Shigeo Shingo, have literally written the book(s) on how to dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to change a die system in manufacturing. SMED is proven to lower production costs because of less down time and to increase the ability to meet customer demand. Stay tuned for a follow-up blog on how Cambridge has started to utilize this practice to reduce overall testing time on a product line! The video below contains highlights of Mr. Shingo’s presentation at Cambridge, including the importance of GEMBA, what it actually means to “Go and Watch” and the simple process to apply SMED.

 

If you are interested in joining us for a Lean tour, visit our website to learn more about what you can expect and the process for signing up!