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TRW Fowlerville plant named Quality Magazine 2014 Plant of the Year

TRW’s braking facility in Fowlerville, Michigan – supported by its sister plant in nearby Fenton – has been named Quality Magazine’s 2014 Plant of the Year in North America for its “impressive commitment to quality, safety and continuous improvement.”

In addition, Quality Magazine also deemed TRW Automotive the No. 1 Quality Company in North America among all industries.

The publication noted that credit for Fowlerville’s awards should be shared with Fenton – the two facilities are 30 miles apart, both manufacture slip control braking systems, and they share a management team. This includes plant manager Bob Holman and quality manager Donnie Pressley.

Bryce Currie, vice president of quality, program management and business excellence, said: “Fowlerville has always been a great plant any way you measure it – quality products, delivery performance, continuous improvement. Employees there are extremely dedicated. They make that plant hum.”

In the most recent issue, Quality Magazine recognized the sharing of ideas and success stories between Fowlerville and Fenton – a practice among many of TRW’s global facilities — as a best practice. The magazine also highlighted TRW’s company-wide common approaches to quality at its manufacturing sites throughout the world: “This allows TRW staff to walk a shop floor in Michigan or Malaysia and understand the process.”

Like other TRW plants, both Fowlerville and Fenton employees are guided by a visual management system that tracks 24 hours of production using green and red indicators to represent processes that are on track or need attention. Color-coded boards in the production control room display safety, quality and order status for projects.

Plant manager Holman credits many quality improvements to the Back to Basics program that involves combing through the data from processes: “We say that (the data) talks to us and tells us if things are drifting or varying. We monitor that closely. We’ve been monitoring our processes for variation for a long time, but the Back to Basics initiative shortened the time intervals that we look at the process. Instead of a day or week, it’s more hour by hour.”

You can read the coverage of the award in the Daily Press & Argus by clicking here.

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