We recently heard some news from our friends across the pond. Some good, some bad, and it’s the usual story. Do you try to cut costs by whacking heads, or do you recognize the value of knowledge and focus on other forms of waste?
First the good. Volante Public Transportation Interior Systems in Durham has been bought by Invertec Limited, thereby saving 30 jobs. Unfortunately 40 jobs… people… had already been made "redundant" by Deloitte. The same Deloitte that tries to get U.S. companies to jump on the outsourcing bandwagon to China? I don’t know, but I’m highly suspicious. As the administrator of the reorganization noted,
Volante has always essentially been a structurally strong business with a range of established customers, and it offers good prospects for its management team and workforce.
The company will have some support in the future thanks to a local regional development agency.
One NorthEast is keen to offer the help of its North East Productivity Alliance (Nepa) programme to the new business as it moves forward – expert engineers advising the company of the latest lean manufacturing techniques, which could assist its future business plans.
Best of luck to the remaining employees who will be making a go of it in Durham. I hope the lean manufacturing transformation they embark on will be more meaningful than the one I’ll describe next.
Unfortunately the news isn’t as good in Lancashire. 55 additional jobs are being "made redundant" out of the 250 that work at Edbro, which specializes in hydraulic systems for lorries and waste management equipment. But here’s the kicker, which gets many of us very angry:
In January 2006, the company announced that it had introduced a programme of lean manufacturing’, designed to improve efficiencies across all work processes.
And the company is apparently doing well and is profitable. This is similar to what happened in Kansas… instead of using the benefits of lean to grow the business, the newly freed-up resources are let go. One of the core pillars of lean, respect for people, is completely ignored. Scratch one potential lean transformation. Without the support of the remaining workers, it will never happen.
If you’re going to try to go lean, be serious about it. Don’t ask your employees to improve processes that they all realize could put their jobs at risk, and then whack them. Leverage the new power of your workforce to grow your company.