Winner Winner, Barbeque Dinner!

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On March 21st, the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce held its 7th Annual BBQ & Blues Cook-off in Heritage Park of Foley, AL. Grill Masters from all along the Gulf Coast set up shop to compete for bragging rights in multiple categories including Best Sauce, Best “Q” and Anything “Butt.” Needless to say, the smells flowing from the downtown area were enough to make everyone’s mouth water. Vulcan partners with the Chamber every year to help sponsor the event and this year, we were asked to design and manufacture trophies for the winners of each finger lickin’ category. One of our five divisions, Vulcan Metal Stampings, is in the process of launching a new product line called “Laser Life” and they jumped at the challenge to create something unique that would get people talking.

As you can see below, the finished products speak for themselves… or should we say “OINK” for themselves! Once the trophies were laser cut by our metal stampings plant, we had them powder-coated and mounted on slices of tree trunks for a rustic touch. A pat on the back and a job “well done” to Team Laser Life… we can’t wait to see what y’all dream up next year!

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BBQ Trophies

Stay connected with us for the official launch of Laser Life, which will make its debut in late summer of 2015!

#VulcanLaserLife #BBQ #Porky #BBQandBlues #FoleyAlabama #AlabamaGulfCoast

Vulcan’s Safety Journey… To Infinity and Beyond!

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Like most caring companies, Vulcan is always concerned about the welfare of its employees. As a small, employee-owned company (just under 300 employees) based in a rural setting, we are more like a big family and what affects one has an effect on us all. To that end, we have always paid close attention to our employees’ safety and historically we have had an envious safety record. The last couple of years we noticed that our frequency rates of injuries and lost time incidents were climbing. In a small workforce even small increases in frequency make you sit up and take notice. Your insurance broker will advise you that for workers compensation insurers frequency can be a bigger driver of costs than severity. Our HR Director called together a team to study what was happening and what we could do about the increasing number of apparently unrelated injury incidents. As Murphy’s Law would have it, the same week that we proposed new initiatives in our safety program to our CEO we suffered a major fire in one of our plants and two employees were seriously injured. As you can imagine, morale plummeted. That settled it for us, things would have to change and change on a major scale.

Our newly-dubbed Corporate Safety Committee or CSC (consisting of compliance, risk management and insurance, HR, our third-party safety consultants and a divisional vice president) redoubled its efforts, championed by our CEO. We first determined who were the leader companies in the safety arena and researched their techniques and philosophies. Being impressed with Milliken Manufacturing in South Carolina, we learned they conducted a Safety University course for safety-conscious companies and so we sent our risk manager there for several days of intensive training in their methodology. The main thing he brought back from the University was that safety must be (1) supported without reservation from top management and (2) driven and “owned” on a daily basis by the employees themselves. We immediately set to work re-inventing our safety program focusing on these tenets. The CSC met every week (in the beginning for 2-3 hours at a time) brainstorming how to affect a change in the mindset of all our employees as relates to safety. We cataloged industry best practices and studied the Milliken process in minute detail. We realized that despite leading a paradigm shift in our safety consciousness, we also needed to transfer ownership of these initiatives directly to the employees on the plant floor.

The CSC presented to our CEO a multi-stage plan of ever more granular activities to ease our employees into this new initiative. We added plant employees to the CSC, interviewed and hired a full-time safety professional (reporting directly to the CEO) which has reduced our dependence on third party consulting and enabled us to tackle issues more efficiently. Within months we began the process of encouraging plant employees to volunteer to serve on a plant-specific safety team addressing issues up front on their plant floor. Today, all plants have their own Plant Safety Teams (PST) and they meet weekly. Our CEO adopted a new title, Chief Safety Officer, and met in each plant with all employees to roll out the changes. He decreed that every meeting on our campus MUST begin with a safety topic discussion. Safety Suggestion Boxes were installed in each plant with S.T.O.P. (Stop, Think, Observe, Proceed) Cards for safety ideas. In this first year we have received and implemented over 350 separate safety ideas from our employees. The PSTs address each S.T.O.P. card, implement remedial strategies and award Safety Points that the employee can collect and redeem at our Safety Store (stocked with candy, polo and t-shirts with safety slogans, personal time off, cups, coolers, baseball caps, electronics, etc.). The CSC is their oversight group. An annual safety slogan contest was conducted and the winner earned additional vacation time (the slogan was made into banners hung in every plant and at the campus corners.) Safety reminders also greet employees and visitors entering and exiting our parking lots. A safety newsletter highlighting important innovators and their ideas is published monthly and circulated to all employees. One S.T.O.P. card suggestion resulted in security badges for employees, vendors and visitors. We are currently installing emergency evacuation alarms in each plant. We are also discussing installation of large screen televisions for safety training and announcements.

We are approaching our first anniversary of implementing our enhanced safety ideas. The process never ends. In a future phase, we will ask PST members to elect one of their own to replace management members of the CSC. Once that is in place, the employees will completely own the process and be directly responsible to one another for safety. In addition, we continue our annual safety training to employees and supervisors. We have completed our first multi-plant 5S LEAN team training and that team will soon roll out the process to the other plants. The real trick to maintaining safety momentum is to keep the message new and fresh and constantly before your employees, encouraging them and rewarding them for safe practices and ideas and empowering them to make a safe difference in each others lives. It can be quite fun and very rewarding, both individually and for the company as a whole. To date we have cut our incident frequency rate by 50% and have incurred no serious accidents this year. This is a huge success story for Vulcan, but we are not finished yet (and we will never be). Our safety program will continue, in the words of Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity and beyond!”

An Overview of 5S: What is it and how can it benefit your business?

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Introduction

5S is a system to reduce waste and optimize productivity through maintaining an orderly workplace and using visual cues to achieve more consistent operational results. Implementation of this method “cleans up” and organizes the workplace basically in its existing configuration, and it is typically the first lean method which organizations implement.

The 5S pillars, Sort (Seiri), Set in Order (Seiton), Shine (Seiso), Standardize (Seiketsu), and Sustain (Shitsuke), provide a methodology for organizing, cleaning, developing, and sustaining a productive work environment. In the daily work of a company, routines that maintain organization and orderliness are essential to a smooth and efficient flow of activities. This lean method encourages workers to improve their working conditions and helps them to learn to reduce waste, unplanned downtime, and in-process inventory.

A typical 5S implementation would result in significant reductions in the square footage of space needed for existing operations. It also would result in the organization of tools and materials into labeled and color coded storage locations, as well as “kits” that contain just what is needed to perform a task. 5S provides the foundation on which other lean methods, such as TPM, cellular manufacturing, just-in-time production, and six sigma can be introduced.

Method and Implementation Approach

5S is a cyclical methodology: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain the cycle. This results in continuous improvement.

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The 5S Pillars1

Sort, the first S, focuses on eliminating unnecessary items from the workplace that are not needed for current production operations. An effective visual method to identify these unneeded items is called “red tagging”, which involves evaluating the necessity of each item in a work area and dealing with it appropriately. A red tag is placed on all items that are not important for operations or that are not in the proper location or quantity. Once the red tag items are identified, these items are then moved to a central holding area for subsequent disposal, recycling, or reassignment. Organizations often find that sorting enables them to reclaim valuable floor space and eliminate such things as broken tools, scrap, and excess raw material.

Set in Order focuses on creating efficient and effective storage methods to arrange items so that they are easy to use and to label them so that they are easy to find and put away. Set in Order can only be implemented once the first pillar, Sort, has cleared the work area of unneeded items. Strategies for effective Set In Order include painting floors, affixing labels and placards to designate proper storage locations and methods, outlining work areas and locations, and installing modular shelving and cabinets.

Shine: Once the clutter that has been clogging the work areas is eliminated and remaining items are organized, the next step is to thoroughly clean the work area. Daily follow-up cleaning is necessary to sustain this improvement. Working in a clean environment enables workers to notice malfunctions in equipment such as leaks, vibrations, breakages, and misalignments. These changes, if left unattended, could lead to equipment failure and loss of production. Organizations often establish Shine targets, assignments, methods, and tools before beginning the shine pillar.

Standardize: Once the first three 5S’s have been implemented, the next pillar is to standardize the best practices in the work area. Standardize, the method to maintain the first three pillars, creates a consistent approach with which tasks and procedures are done. The three steps in this process are assigning 5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine) job responsibilities, integrating 5S duties into regular work duties, and checking on the maintenance of 5S. Some of the tools used in standardizing the 5S procedures are: job cycle charts, visual cues (e.g., signs, placards, display scoreboards), scheduling of “five-minute” 5S periods, and check lists. The second part of Standardize is prevention – preventing accumulation of unneeded items, preventing procedures from breaking down, and preventing equipment and materials from getting dirty.

Sustain: making a habit of properly maintaining correct procedures, is often the most difficult S to implement and achieve. Changing entrenched behaviors can be difficult, and the tendency is often to return to the status quo and the comfort zone of the “old way” of doing things. Sustain focuses on defining a new status quo and standard of work place organization. Without the Sustain pillar the achievements of the other pillars will not last long. Tools for sustaining 5S include signs and posters, newsletters, pocket manuals, team and management check-ins, performance reviews, and department tours. Organizations typically seek to reinforce 5S messages in multiple formats until it becomes “the way things are done.”

Potential Benefits for Safety, Environmental and Quality Performance

Painting the machines and the equipment light colors and cleaning the windows, often done under the Shine pillar, decreases energy needs associated with lighting.

Painting and cleaning makes it easier for workers to notice spills or leaks quickly, thereby decreasing spill response. This can significantly reduce waste generation from spills and clean-up.

The removal of obstacles and the marking of main thoroughfares decreases the potential of accidents.

Regular cleaning, as part of the Shine pillar, decreases the accumulation of edge trimmings, shavings, dirt, oil build-up and other substances that can contaminate production processes and result in accidents or defects. Reduction in defects has significant environmental benefits (e.g., avoided materials, wastes, and energy needed to produce the defective output; avoided need to dispose of defective output).

Organizing equipment, parts, and materials so they are easy to find can significantly reduce unneeded time and frustration for workers looking for the right tools or materials. Employees are more likely to use the right tools and follow proper procedures if needed items are easily located.

As you can see, actively following and maintaining the 5’s principles will ensure a safe, environmentally friendly work environment that has fewer quality defects. With improved Safety, Quality and Environmental compliance comes a more profitable company.

Information Courtesy: http://www.epa.gov/lean/environment/methods/fives.htm

Vulcan recently held its own 5S hands-on training seminar and the results speak for themselves! Thank you to Alabama Technology Network (ATN) for sharing your expertise with us.

Vulcan 5S Event 1

Sorting tools in Vulcan’s Maintenance Department

Vulcan 5S Event 2

An area of our Maintenance Department after the 5S event