Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. gets top honors for lean manufacturing

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC) earned top honors from parent company Daimler AG, which recently chose the company as its global leader in the human infrastructure component of its lean manufacturing processes.

FCCC won the award for great strides made during the past two years against key performance indicators (KPIs) in areas such as product quality, labor efficiency, environmental impact and lead time. Each of those accomplishments is central to the Truck Operating System employed by Daimler Trucks within all of its plants.

FCCC achieved that progress despite facing a challenging industry environment shaped by changes in heavy-duty emissions regulations.

“The global recognition of FCCC’s lean manufacturing processes and our team’s efforts reflects our commitment to improvement, and our desire to serve our customers more efficiently and effectively,” said Bob Harbin, FCCC president. “And by utilizing what we learned in competing for the award with Daimler plants around the globe, we’re sharpening our lean manufacturing skills even further, ultimately improving the high-quality, durable and reliable products our customers expect.”

With roots in the 1960s, lean manufacturing centers on the notion that customers should only pay for steps toward the making of a product or the delivery of a service, and that the producers should shoulder any other associated costs. To that end, lean manufacturing improvements are categorized into five “pillars” of the effort: human infrastructure, standardization, quality focus & robust processes, just-in-time, and continuous improvement.

Daimler AG awards just one top honor for all of its companies in each of those areas.

The human infrastructure component encompasses all policy deployment processes within a lean manufacturing facility, which FCCC addressed by coupling goal-setting concepts with problem-solving tools.

Some of the notable successes which garnered the Daimler award for FCCC were a 55 percent improvement on delivery days; 11.4 percent improvement in direct labor efficiency; 45 percent improvement on 30-day in-service claims; and a 39.5 percent improvement in environmental impact.

In fact, the FCCC manufacturing plant’s October 2009 achievement of its Zero Waste to Landfill initiative, which eliminated solid waste throughout the facility, marked a major milestone on several fronts.

FCCC became the first chassis manufacturer and first company within the trucking industry to achieve Zero Waste to Landfill status in the United States, achieving its goal three months ahead of schedule.

FCCC’s Zero Waste to Landfill program and comprehensive recycling efforts resulted in elimination of solid waste disposal throughout its entire facility. Joining an elite group of solid waste-free manufacturing facilities in the United States, FCCC went from disposing 250,000 pounds per month of solid waste in January 2007 to disposing zero pounds by October 2009.

The FCCC facility recycles materials such as plastic, paper, aluminum, cardboard, metals, wood and nylon. The company’s commitment to clean air technologies is in line with its parent company, Daimler AG’s global initiative called “Shaping Future Transportation.” Launched by Daimler in November 2007 in Stuttgart, Germany, the initiative is focused on reducing category emissions pollutants, carbon dioxide and fuel consumption.

Despite winning the award from Daimler, FCCC executives are determined to continue to seek quality and process improvements to improve ROI for customers.

“Even though we’ve been recognized by Daimler, we’ll continue to take strides to better understand what our customers value and how we can implement that into our processes to give them the best product at a competitive price,” FCCC Operating Unit Manager Joe Bradshaw said in a written statement.