DEARBORN - In an effort to maintain quality and promote continuous improvement, a daily Periodic Job Observation (PJO)/Deep Knowledge process is in place at Ford’s manufacturing facilities to ensure that each plant employee is doing his or her job according to established standards.
At the beginning of the PJO/Deep Knowledge process, a process coach and a team leader – both with an OIS (Operator Instruction Sheet) in hand – observe an employee doing a job.
“For each and every job there is a detailed OIS that tells the employee exactly what to do step by step,” said Charlie Binger, site manager, Cleveland Engine Plant. “For example, ‘I pick up two bolts with my left hand. I transfer one bolt to my right hand. I insert the bolt with my right hand into the engine, and so on.’ Each job has that level of instruction.”
It is critical that employees follow the OIS to the letter, says Binger.
“You want every employee doing the same job on every shift to do it the same exact way because you want to prevent them from making mistakes that could impact the quality of the final product,” said Binger. “If the instructions say to pick up two bolts, you don’t want the employee picking up four bolts because they could inadvertently drop one into the engine. Now you have a bonus part in an engine – maybe in a cylinder – and when you fire that engine up it may fail.”
Another important concern is safety, says Joe Mistretta, assembly area manager, Buffalo Stamping Plant.
“On the OIS there is a Job Safety Analysis that lists all the protective equipment the employee needs to wear. If the appropriate gloves, mask or goggles are not being used properly, someone could get hurt,” he said.
“In addition, if there’s a sequence to the way the parts should be installed and the employee is not following the sequence, it could potentially taint the line and affect the quality and output of production.”
Once the process coach and team leader have observed the employee doing the job a few times, the team leader then takes over for the employee – giving him or her time to meet with the process coach for a one-on-one discussion to address any issues or concerns identified on the job.
“This is a two-way conversation,” said Binger. “It is an opportunity for the process coach to explain to the employee what – if anything – they’re doing incorrectly and the value of performing the job to the standard. It’s also an opportunity for the employee to share ideas about how the job might be done better, faster or more efficiently.”
The one-on-one setting allows for open dialogue, says Mistretta.
“Individuals feel free to speak because it’s a one-on-one conversation with no audience there,” he said. “It’s also a way to develop a relationship between the process coach and the team member.”
That relationship is very important, says Dave Buzo, plant manager, Buffalo Stamping Plant.
“You’re taking the time and getting employees off the floor to tell them that their thoughts are important,” he said. “You want to make their job easier and safer and you want their full involvement in the process.”
Issues that are brought up during the meetings are reviewed and investigated. If modifications are made to the work process, everyone on the team signs off on them and they are then documented in the OIS going forward.
“We could change the standard if out of that conversation it comes that there is a better way of doing something,” said Scott Zelie, press area manager, Buffalo Stamping Plant. “It is continuous improvement: plan, do, check and adjust.”
Binger says PJO/Deep Knowledge processes have been performed at Ford plants for at least the past decade but until recently it was simply a matter of observing employees and correcting them. Now things are different. In-depth employee discussions and opportunities for improvement are included.
“In the spirit of the Ford Production System we now count on the people doing the job to educate us and to drive continuous improvement,” he said.