DEARBORN - Great minds think alike.
Multiple Ford plants are turning conference rooms into learning tools to help educate employees about the basic tenets of the Ford Production System (FPS).
These “learning labs” – which showcase important elements of the FPS on huge wall banners along conference room walls – were pioneered by the Chicago Assembly Team and soon replicated in various locations including Dearborn Stamping and Rawsonville.
“We have all of the information about the FPS in a big six-inch blue binder, which I call ‘the Bible.’ It’s full of lots and lots of tabs and documents,” explained Larry Moskwa, assistant plant manager, Chicago Assembly Plant. “But reality is the book is very cumbersome and when you go to look for something it’s hard to find. In the learning lab, the information is on the walls. It’s organized, visual and in your face.”
Moskwa says the learning lab at his facility started out as a way for plant champions of the different operating systems and key unifying processes to update their gap analysis and action plans with timing. But it grew into much more.
“We thought it would be a perfect scenario to take the whole group of team managers through each one of the operating systems and the fundamentals that make those systems function,” he said. “The next step will be to have those team managers train all of the process coaches and team leaders.”
Frank Piazza, plant manager, at Dearborn Stamping says his facility’s learning lab has gone through multiple transformations since it was created several months ago.
“We started using the room for time and data management with meeting templates. Then we posted information about the various operating systems and the key unifying processes,” he said. “From there we started having our leadership transformation meetings in the room and it morphed in terms of bringing in pieces of the team implementation process, the road map and other implementation elements.”
Since Dearborn Stamping has not yet been formally approved for team implementation, the room holds much potential for future use in educating employees about the FPS Process, says Piazza.
“Once we do formally implement the process coach and team leader training, we will utilize the Learning Lab for part the training process,” he said.
The idea to replicate the learning lab at the Rawsonville plant came from Plant Manager O.J. Alvarado.
“The room was created to encourage teaching, coaching and the global FPS operating and key unifying systems at all levels of the organization,” said China Sellers, Communications coach for the Rawsonville facility. “It has been used as a training tool to roll out the FPS policy deployment to the entire plant. The room serves multiple purposes – from FPS strategy planning and training to monthly plant and FPS master schedule status reviews. Team leaders, team managers, process coaches and union leadership all participate in the training program.”
While the establishment of a learning lab is not a standard requirement for the company’s manufacturing plants, FPS North America Manager Liliana Ramirez-Jones says it is a great example of ingenuity.
“The idea to create a learning lab evolved out of the need to teach and educate our folks,” she said. “It provided visual and detailed information that aroused people’s interest and it became a ‘one-stop shop’ for teaching and learning. The process has progress throughout the Stamping organization and the Assembly Car region and all of the plants within these regions currently utilize the learning lab concept.”