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Orchid Blog

Believe in Zero

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I was recently inspired by a t-shirt that is being created for team members at Orchid Arcadia. What a powerful message: “Believe in Zero! Zero Accidents, Zero Customer Returns, Zero Past Due and Zero Defects!” I’m convinced that the first step in becoming the manufacturing company that we aspire to be is to believe that it is possible.

When I saw this shirt, I was instantly reminded of the journey that Orchid Chelsea traveled last year as they improved from 60% on-time delivery to 143 consecutive days of on-time shipments.When Patrick Davidson, their new General Manager, showed up and challenged the team to achieve (merely) 95% OTD, the entire management team thought he was deranged, or at least naive.Maybe he had delivered that kind of performance at his previous company, but he hadn’t been in our industry with our customers and with our level of complexity. But slowly and surely, the team made improvements and tasted success. Finally, the scale tipped so that the team not only believed it was possible, but decided to not let anything stand in the way of their dream. Their extended strong performance has set the stage for them to win more new work this year than the site has ever seen.So now they have new problems to solve, good problems.

Back to the message on the shirt. The most important area is safety. As we build processes and develop the Orchid Production System, we must make sure that every one of our daily activities can be performed with no danger of causing harm. This is not easy, since we work around red hot or molten metal, caustic acids, razor sharp machining chips and heavy bars of raw material. But with ingenuity and persistence, we can make sure that everyone is safe. We’ve all heard some variant of the phrase, “accidents happen.” We have to reject this thinking and instead think of ways to work that do not allow for injuries.

The next important focus is customer quality. We need to get to the point where we view a return from a customer as a serious anomaly that should not be allowed by the processes we’ve developed in our system. In order to achieve this, we must fight to make sure that we understand all of our customers’ requirements and translate those processes into our quality plans. We need to make sure we measure parts like our customers, and that our measurement systems are robust and correlate with our customers.

A third central point is customer delivery. As mentioned above, this is an area that should be very achievable by our sites. Since Orchid Chelsea had their streak of perfect shipments, Orchid Alabama had a streak of 60 days on-time and Orchid Memphis made it 28 days. We all know that there are a lot of moving parts that have to work in unison to meet our customers’ desired delivery dates and to ship when we’ve promised, and the task can seem daunting. But we also have an unbelievable resource to tap into -- the minds of team members throughout your operation. By systematically identifying the reasons why products ship late and eliminating those causes from your operation, your site can set the new Orchid record!

The last fundamental for today is our production quality. Creating defects has so many detrimental effects throughout the operation, and it is frustrating for all team members -- no one likes to make junk! There is tremendous power in the mental model, “I will not accept defective parts. I will not make defective parts. I will not pass on defective parts.” Again, we have to push our thinking to the next level, from “I will not pass on a part that I know is bad” to “I will not pass on a part unless I know it is good.” Think about what you would have to do in your processes to make sure that a team member knows that the part they are passing on is 100% conforming.

As I write this article, I am getting fired up. Our ultimate goal is to develop into a contract manufacturing company that dominates our competition by customer service. We want to have unparalleled customer service. We want to set the bar for our entire industry. We want the Orchid name to be synonymous with trust, competence and service. Let’s begin the journey by believing we can!

Matt Burba
Executive Vice President
Corporate