Yamaha names small group competition winners

Pictured are members of the winning team from Yamaha’s latest small group competition. Their winning project keeps the entire golf car assembly line running at optimum speed.

The winners of Yamaha’s biannual breakout competition were recently named, with each team member receiving $250.

In addition to their monetary reward, employees who participated also saw their work make a huge difference to their colleagues, customers and the community.

Twice a year, Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation in Newnan brings together groups of employees from all departments, pairs them with an engineer and allows them to solve problems.

Using Yamaha’s 8-step problem-solving process, their solutions are implemented and tested right on the assembly line. After their solution has been running for a month or more, the data is collected and presented to senior management.

Bob Jackson, continuous improvement engineer and facilitator, who is retiring this month after eight years with Yamaha, was assigned to each of the top three winning teams.

“These activities help associates make improvements to the business and their individual areas,” Jackson said. “During these small group activities, it’s not just about doing, it’s about teaching others how to apply what they’ve learned in their own field. It’s a win-win for Yamaha.

MD Kabir, Unit Manager for Continuous Improvement, shared that Yamaha has strong leadership at the top, but small group competition is designed to build leadership at all levels.

“We want to go to a perfect place where you flip the pyramid where the bottom is now at the top,” Kabir said. “They do most of the improvement activities. They push the organization to new levels of performance, whether in quality, cost, delivery or safety.

The team that recently won first place fixed an issue of a part of the golf car assembly line not keeping up with the rest of the factory. It was part of the welding line – because one part of the chain couldn’t keep up, it made subsequent parts of the assembly line unable to produce golf cars.

By adjusting productivity and adding a robot, the team was able to cut production from 167 seconds to 120 seconds, which solved the problem. The ultimate savings from the changes they suggested were $125,000 per year.

The second-place team from the WaveRunner molding department was looking to solve the problem of too much wasted material. Initially they had to cut 2 inches off each side of what they had because it wasn’t usable. They contacted the compound supplier to make sure they could get a better quality material that didn’t need to be cut.

Once they fixed the trim, they reworked the WaveRunner base patterns to use that now usable part. They went from 85% usable hardware to 100% utilization.

This saves more than 557 tons of material from ending up in landfills each year and saves the company $2.2 million a year, according to Bob Jackson.

However, winners aren’t necessarily chosen based on the impact dollars they create for the company, Jackson said, but for how well they follow and communicate Yamaha’s 8-step problem-solving process when they make their presentation.

Kabir and Jackson also shared that Yamaha brought in other Yamaha affiliates from across the country to learn from this process. They share Newnan’s excellence across the country.

The winning team includes Tyler Sellers, Bob Jackson, Millie Reeves, Allen Stinson, Phil Cross, Kyle Digiulio, Robert Kelley, Ann Mecke, Mathew Williams, Ben Screws, Toni Munoz and Steven Garces.

Any employee can join a small group project and compete for prizes and respect from management and peers. Yamaha is currently hiring additional employees for a growing team.

To work for a team where your voice is heard and respected, and where you get paid at least $18 to start through a contract, visit yamahajobs.com for details.

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