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INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 48: NUMBER 07
By Ashlyn Kirk
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. renewed its search for a better product development process in 2005 after several past attempts at improvement. Hiring outside help and integrating new software programs, unfortunately, did not seem to be the right answers. Goodyear relied on research and development to devise new products to launch. But the process wasn’t fast enough to keep up with market opportunities. The key was to get all people engaged and trained. It also was a matter of allowing engineers to come up with their own lean processes and better ways to manufacture products. Processes were easier to sustain when the engineers came up with the ideas and led the transformation.
Huddles at Goodyear are designed to stay short and effective. The huddles go through each management department within the operating chain and follow a similar agenda. Design reviews focus on whether the functions in the product development environment have the capabilities, knowledge, expertise, talent and processes to deliver value effectively for the customer. Huddles and design reviews make sure that all stakeholders know immediately what other departments need in order to bring the planned product to fruition. Because of lean, Goodyear slashed tire development lead-time by more than 70 percent, increased on-time delivery from 30 percent to 98 percent, cut warranty costs and tripled the number of learning cycles or project iterations per year.
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