June 29, 2017
Caterpillar’s stockholders, customers and employees expect innovation. After all, it’s our history and our future.
Our R&D centers are definitely the main forces of innovation, but in every facility and office, there are “hidden innovators.” Today, these hidden innovators’ ideas are being turned into reality.
What’s gained? Improved production efficiency and quality, promotion of employee safety and welfare, and reduced waste and costs.
Putting Ideas in Action
Take for example a solution developed at an assembly workstation in Caterpillar (Xuzhou) Ltd., a powertrain facility. More than 20 times every day, employees in Xuzhou manually pushed a hoisted assembly to the next bay. Xuzhou designed a friction conveyor line and an automatic track-borne cart conveyor line to reduce the safety risks of these manual tasks at this workstation, improving employees’ working environment.
It’s in the Atmosphere
Innovative ideas cannot be formed outside of an innovative atmosphere. In order to foster such an atmosphere, facilities have launched various activities and projects to drive employee enthusiasm and creativity.
The ergonomics solution in Xuzhou was part of a series of improvement projects called “Smart Plant,” which covered several key steps in the manufacturing process from assembling to painting to fabrication.
Three Simple Steps
Facilities around the world are implementing similar projects to spur innovation. One of our remanufacturing facilities in Corinth, Mississippi, started its journey in 2013. Here are three steps they’ve taken to build a culture of innovation.
1) Employees learn what innovation looks like – Team members in Corinth kick-started their journey with a day-long Best Team Day, participating in activities to spur creative thinking.
2) Management shows a commitment to innovation – Corinth designated a team of employees to focus on innovation projects and activities. The projects improved safety, quality, velocity and cost. Employees even helped contribute to 11 patents between 2015 and 2016.
3) Recognize team members for their ideas – One employee recommended a formal recognition process, and Corinth adopted the plan. Team members in Corinth proudly wear pins representing their innovative ideas.
In Xuzhou, China, Corinth, Mississippi, and around the world – innovation ideas are welcome, and real, positive value is happening!
Team members in Corinth, Mississippi, work together on a challenge during the facility’s Best Team Day.
Ergonomic solution designed for an assembly workstation in Caterpillar (Xuzhou) Ltd.