The Puget Sound Business Journal recently published an article on Korry (Esterline Control Systems - Korry), a subsidiary of Esterline Technologies, covering their recent move from a downtown Seattle location to a new plant in Everett, WA.
The old location was a cluster of buildings in which design and manufacturing of aerospace parts was accomplished "efficiently" despite the inherent complexities that the physical plant presented. As a lean manufacturing organization Korry expects to gain significant efficiencies from the move that the "flexible" work space will provide.
Korry's President, Dan McFeeley, said that the new facility should allow Korry over the next 10 years to see a threefold improvement in revenue with the same head count. While some of that improvement will occur through the new facility allowing operations that were disjointed before to be co-located in a logical and efficient manner, the real benefit lies in the "lean" philosophy that Esterline companies practice of focusing on removing obstacles so that employees can work more effectively - not just faster.
Dan walks the talk by having his office on wheels in the factory where he is close to the action. The cart allows him to move to various areas of the building with a mobile working desk (working surface at standing height) with his laptop. The traditional President's office does not exist. Engineers are near the products that they support in the open manufacturing/assembly areas.
The significance of this move is what it tells the management community. Korry has been recognized for many years for successfully implementing lean manufacturing practices within the constraints of their previous facilities but they were not satisfied with nominal improvements of making a traditional move that that often reinvent legacy practices. Korry has made a major leap that we should take note of including not only the open environment of the manufacturing space, co-location of engineering with manufacturing but also the open leadership practices of senior management.
It is obvious that Korry has taken an aggressive attitude to adopting practices that will allow it to be a globally competitive Northwest manufacturing company for some time!
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