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Go, see, listen, develop

Fall 2014

Sean Kennedy
Carman Sean Kennedy works underneath a Top Gon car at 38th Street to help install a tub.

NSight practices inspire retub initiative

From the start, the Mechanical Department has exercised its NSight efficiency practices to develop the Top Gon retub initiative.

NSight, introduced to the department about two years ago by Don Graab, vice president mechanical, is the railroad’s version of Lean, a process improvement system popularized by Japanese automaker Toyota. Mechanical employees are using NSight in locomotive and car shops to spark innovation, streamline work processes, engage employees, increase productivity, and reduce costs.

Here are three examples of how NSight has been used in the retub initiative.

Go see

Before doing anything else, Calvin Cox, assistant vice president, toured the Lamberts Point yard for a firsthand look at Top Gons identified for scrap. His visit, opening the door to thinking differently about a work issue, exercised NSight’s “go see” principle.

“‘Go see’ means get your boots on the ground and look at something so you’re more familiar with it,” Cox said.

The take-away message: Always look for opportunities.

“We wouldn’t have come up with this if we hadn’t just gone out there and looked at the cars and asked ourselves the question, ‘What can we do?’ ” Cox said.

Scott Williams, Jason Strange, and Charlie Clifton
Carmen Scott Williams, left, and Jason Strange, right, conduct a job briefing before installing tubs in a car at 38th Street. In the background, carman Charlie Clifton removes the Barlow ram after placing a block between the side sill and side brace, making space to install a tub.


Listen to people who do the job

The department allowed craft employees to take the lead in developing work processes. This ground-up approach reflects NSight’s people principles of consensus decision-making and problem-solving to develop shared work goals.

“What’s making this truly successful is that employees made the decisions on how certain things were done,” said Jim Welch, senior general foreman at 38th Street Car Shop. “There have been differences of opinion, and we had meetings to talk about it and come to agreement on the best practice.”

Aaron Euton, manager Portsmouth Car Shop, noted that Cox met with carmen at his shop before the initiative began.

“He had much discussion with them about the importance of their involvement and the importance to the company,” Euton said. “When the project began to develop, employees had complete ownership of where we were going to go with it. This is clearly a sustainable approach to doing business.”

Develop a process

Craft employees have followed NSight principles in structuring the work flow safely and as efficiently as possible. They have focused on storing tools where they are needed and easy to reach to reduce unnecessary movement, for example, and they are developing standardized ways of doing the work.
A big part includes creating standard work documents with step-by-step instructions.

“We get employee involvement to map out the entire process of how we do the work, including personal protection equipment,” said Ray Jones, director pier and facilities. “It’s good for reference. If you’ve got new employees coming on, they can look at it and get a good understanding of what the job entails.”

The documents will be made available on the Mechanical Department’s sharepoint website for systemwide access, and they can be updated if a more efficient work process is developed.

“They’re living documents,” Jones said