2015 Year in Review

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FROM DESIGN TO THE FACTORY FLOOR, TEAMS EMploY Lean and Agile to Deliver for Customers

To help customers take their businesses to the next level, teams from the Advanced Components and Systems Division (ACSD) are collaborating to improve quality and efficiency.

In the office, software engineers are coming together in Agile teams to bring innovative solutions to our customers faster than the competition. Agile is Lean for software development. But more specifically, Agile software development is a set of principles for software development in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. These cross-functional teams learn from customers what features and solutions are needed and how they are valued. Then they leverage their diverse knowledge, experiences and skill sets to develop and deliver creative solutions. This flexible process helps teams mitigate project risks and deliver value more rapidly.

“We’ve really seen the benefits of changing our mindset,” says Alex Kott, ACSD 6 Sigma Master Black Belt. “High-performing teams are stronger than any one individual. Face-to-face collaboration, frequent feedback and knowledge sharing helps us develop better products.”

On the shop floor, production employees are embracing Lean principles like Built in Quality (BIQ) to find defects before they reach customers. BIQ employs strategically placed “quality gates” to check for and find defects, stop them from moving on and initiate a fix. When operators find defects at quality gates, the operators are part of the problem solving process. Operators now have a more holistic view of their work: They know that their “customer” is the next process downstream from them, and they are careful to send quality products down the line.

“It’s the mindset of improving collaboration by knocking down walls. It’s amazing what can be done when you get everyone in a room working together, building off each other’s ideas.”

– Alex Kott, Caterpillar 6 Sigma master black belt

Leaders are encouraging employees to voice their concerns and bring up ideas for improvement. Production leaders then have a responsibility to address those ideas and report back to employees on what has been done. This Lean culture is making a difference.

“There’s no doubt that Lean has contributed to our improvements in quality, velocity and safety,” states Steve Ferguson, ACSD global operations general manager. “In 2015 alone, quality in our factories improved 27 percent; we achieved a committed shipping performance of 99 percent; and we had a record-low recordable injury frequency of 0.12.”

1959 Caterpillar established the Louis B. Neumiller Safety Award to recognize an outstanding achievement in safety. The Decatur, Illinois, plant received the first Louis B. Neumiller Safety Award. Elected president of the company in 1941 and Chairman of the Board in 1954, Neumiller had great concern for employee welfare and safety over the years, often stating “Safety is Always Our No. 1 Business.” Our company’s oldest enterprise-wide recognition is now known as the Health & Safety Excellence Award.