Small changes brought big improvements at the truck plant

Openness to change is a way to promote more efficient operations. We visited the Bourg Plant in France that made big improvements by recognizing smart ideas.
Three employees from the Bourg plant

Sandrine Gerling, logistics operator at the Volvo Group plant in Bourg assembly of the Renault Trucks heavy duty trucks, knows how to observe her work station in order to identify actions for improvement. Through the 3M observation method, she has a way to analyse every action performed during a task in order to improve ergonomics, cut variability and eliminate downtime.

“Taken together, all this has changed my daily life,” she says. “This work has also united the team, we know that we can say things, make suggestions and that we will be listened to.”

“Even if everything cannot be changed right away, Sandrine Gerling insists: “We must dare– some simple improvements can be made overnight”.

The 3M collaboration between logistics and production in Bourg improved overall productivity at the plant by eliminating production waste. The assembly unit led by David Desroches completely redesigned their set up.

“We started by filming the progress of each task. Video observation is very enlightening, it gives us a new perspective,”he says.

The 3M technique has been implemented throughout the plant. It is not rocket science. For instance, Post-It notes are used to represent one step at the workstation. This way, they can be easily moved to complete another workload.

“The goal is not to work more but to work better by using the skills of the people closest to the field."

Jean Calard, team leader of David Desroches’ team, says:
“Each machine operator takes charge of his or her station; this is the strength of this initiative”. This also applies to all the members of the unit, representatives from logistics, safety,methods and so on, to ensure the feasibility of the action plans.

The method is a source of pride for the plant and its site manager, Frédéric Brun.

“The performance culture is a reality in Bourg and making everyone accountable is a major step that has been taken with consistency and conviction by all the managers,” he says.

3M method
A method used to visualise the various work elements within a process to aid continuous improvement.
It is based on three areas: Muri (ergonomics), Mura (variability), Muda (waste).

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