The first OpExChange plant visit of 2023 occurred on January 12 at Dodge Industrial in Greenville, SC. Thirty-three OpExChange members from twenty-two organizations participated in this event.
This Dodge site was one of the founding members of the OpExChange and has been an active member for twenty-one years. Larry Millwood, Continuous Improvement Manager at the site hosted the event. Todd Pohar, Manufacturing Manager, kicked off the discussion with an overview of the company history and product development.
Dodge Industrial manufactures heavy-duty industrial gear boxes. These solutions are largely used in the aggregate and grain industries and wherever heavy material needs to be moved. Five manufacturing sites produce parts in the Southeast, each fabricating a different product which is assembled into a drive system. Todd shared that Dodge Industrial is the highest quality gear manufacturer in North America.
The Greenville facility, constructed in 1977, includes 239K square feet in manufacturing space with 15K square feet of office space. They purchase bar-stock, castings, and forgings and convert these into finished housings, gears, and associated components. This site has in-house processing capability to produce all of their components.
The three-hour visit included presentations on their continuous improvement infrastructure with deep roots in lean manufacturing. Dodge utilizes extensive training and certification in lean manufacturing to develop employees and sustain a continuous improvement culture. This includes programs for yellow belt, green belt, black belt, and lean master. The continuous improvement team uses a “lean laboratory” in the center of the plant for consistent training and deployment of their kaizen activities, which average two per month. A standardized kaizen format is used to implement and report-out on these events. (A copy was shared with visiting OpExChange companies).
A ninety-minute, interactive plant tour included detailed report-outs on four recent kaizens demonstrating scrap reduction, continuous flow implementation, reduction of floor space, and material flow improvements.
The Greenville team is tremendously proud of their safety culture and progress made at the plant. The safety manager for the site, Jeff Gibson, delivered a rundown on their progress and how they accomplished continuous improvement. In 2008, they began a concentrated employee engagement program with several step-function improvements over the next fifteen years. The latest change occurred in 2015, when they implemented the SafeStart Now program, which focuses on the human elements of rushing, frustration, fatigue, and complacency. Jeff stated that, “This is the best training I have seen in my thirty-five years as a mechanical engineer.” Their current OSHA rate is now 0.36, which is ten times better than the national average for their industry.
Plus/Delta & Discussion
After the plant tour, the visit concluded with a thirty-minute discussion and plus/delta session. In this, the peer visitors provided feedback to Dodge on several positive things they observed that they will take back with them to their plants. There were several accolades given for the standardized lean laboratory, the structure of the Kaizen report, and the safety engagement program. The team also provided many suggestions on some areas Dodge might consider to further improve their operations.
About Dodge® Industrial, Inc.
Dodge® Industrial is a leading manufacturer of mounted bearings, enclosed gearing, and power transmission components. For more than 140 years, Dodge products have helped manufacturers in a broad range of industries increase the productivity and profitability of their operations. With in-depth knowledge of each industry and its specific needs and challenges, Dodge provides product solutions and develops ongoing innovations and advanced technologies to continuously help manufacturers improve output, decrease downtime, and enhance system value to their customers.
The OpExChange, sponsored by the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership, is a peer-to-peer network of manufacturers and distributors in South Carolina known for generating success for members through benchmarking and best practice sharing. Member companies host events and share practical examples of industrial automation, lean manufacturing improvements, and leadership development. It is an invaluable resource to South Carolina companies that provides access to others who are on similar improvement journeys. If your company is interested in participating in this collaborative effort to improve both the competitiveness of your operation and South Carolina, contact Mike Demos (Mike@OpExChange.com). More information and upcoming plant visits are available on the OpExChange website www.OpExChange.com.