Lean and Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence has always been a part of our foundation. We have accelerated our Lean deployment to be better positioned to meet the needs of the industries and customers we serve.

Caterpillar Xuzhou Limited (CXL) began its first phase of Lean improvements in 2014. The team began by developing a Built In Quality awareness exercise that became known as the “poison mushroom” program. In this exercise, quality leaders place five defects, or poison mushrooms, into the manufacturing process. Then employees were challenged to find the defects using standard quality processes. While prizes were awarded to those who were able to stop the defects, the point of the exercise is to demonstrate the importance of a stronger quality culture.

Other Lean processes and tools implemented at CXL include “one-second inspects” at various stages of the manufacturing process, a quality performance scoreboard for all assembly line operators, and a heat map to identify high-risk stations and processes. These new processes led CXL to improvements in productivity and OPACC. As a result of the facility’s efforts, CXL earned Excellence awards for process and product quality, which were awarded by CEO Jim Umpleby.

We are also applying Lean beyond manufacturing from inventory optimization to product development to human resources processes. Built on a strong foundation of 6 Sigma and the Caterpillar Production System (CPS), Caterpillar is committed to deploying Lean methodologies across all functional areas of the business.

“Lean is about serving customers better – better than we did in the past and better than our competitors.”

Vivek Vanmeeganathan, Facility Manager, Thiruvallur, India