The Operational Impact of the Morning Huddle

An ownership transition at SPI Industries, South Bend, IN, triggered a re-evaluation of operational methodologies throughout the plant. With a desire to “turn the culture and turn the ship,” President James Doster implemented a morning meeting to share critical benchmarks and process updates with his staff.

Previously, the management team would review metrics once a month — quality, scrap, etc. That wasn’t enough. While the staff were all doing their jobs, they weren’t working toward the same goal. Now, SPI has isolated nine metrics — sales value produced; labor hours; sales value produced per labor hour; scrap percentage and cost of scrap; sales numbers; safety/injuries; hours spent away from the press; lost scheduling hours and repair needs — and those metrics are reviewed in the huddle every morning with a management team.

Every morning at 8 a.m., the director of purchasing, customer service manager, director of engineering, director of manufacturing, a representative from shipping, the first shift foreman and three members from the quality team gather for 15 minutes. “The daily huddle helps to align the entire company,” said Doster. “We find out what we need to focus on today to get product out the door and which metrics might not be meeting our standards.”

The metrics data is posted on a white board, with access for everyone in the facility. The director of manufacturing and the head foreman are responsible for making the heads of other shifts aware of trouble spots and other critical issues. Each month, data from the previous months provide a history that makes the daily number more meaningful. “It started out with just numbers on a board. Now, those metrics have a graph that charts the data from the last two or three months,” Doster said. “We take those numbers and educate the team about the impact on the bottom line — down to the operator level — and how it influences their bonus.”

At SPI, the end goal is to have each employee understand his or her effect on the business. “I want them to ask, ‘How does what I did today drive that number?,’ ” explained Doster. To that end, Doster holds a full company meeting each quarter with every shift to talk about the numbers on the board and what they mean. “It’s a slow process to educate every person on that line. It will be worth it, though, because when they start looking at the numbers and understanding what they mean, then I don’t have to manage them. They will manage themselves.”

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