Shedding Light on the Workplace

July 16, 2009
NTMA recognizes shops that employ higher standards of cleanliness and atmosphere with 6S award

The National Tooling & Machining Association is showcasing four companies that it feels embody the kind of cutting-edge thinking needed to reinvigorate manufacturing in America. NTMA announced Hobson & Motzer, of Durham, Conn., Overton Industries, of Mooresville, Ind., Toth Technologies, of Pennsauken, NJ, and Pointe Precision, of Plover, Wis., as the first four winners of the 6S Excellence Award.

The 6S Excellence Award program was developed with the help of GF Agie Charmilles chairman Harry Moser as a way to recognize shops that employ higher standards of cleanliness and atmosphere.

“We thought it would be a great idea to expose NTMA members, especially the premier operations,” says Kevin King, NTMA manufacturing technology director. “But it also serves as a challenge to our other shops to look at their internal operations and to strive for cleaner and brighter environments.”

The NTMA has other strategies as well. According to King, 6S can be used to improve recruiting, employee retention, productivity and sales. If manufacturers can create a more pleasant working place, perhaps they can also present a more positive image to the public.

“We’re hoping that it will serve a couple purposes,” says King. “It can help market a company’s facility and it allows members to learn from one another. But the bigger issue is that we’re hoping that with better worldclass facilities, members can better recruit young talent. We need to break that mold that manufacturing is dark and dirty and nasty.”

The four winners of the 6S Excellence Award are the first, but this is not just another annual contest. The award program allows for yearround submissions using an extensive questionnaire.

NTMA based the program on 5S (Sort, Set-in-Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain), plus safety. The questionnaire, through a series of statements and inquiries, touches on each of the six elements. Each question is rated from 1 to 5. If the total for all six elements scored over 135 out of 150 maximum, the shop is considered Class A, and thereby eligible for the award.

Candidates also must verify their answers by supplying photos or video with their audit results.

King says achieving Class A status is only the beginning for many companies. With that status comes responsibility.

“They have to not only broaden their marketing reach, but they need to also promote clean, modern manufacturing,” says King. “They can do that by setting up tours with their political leaders and educational leaders. This is about combating that misconception about the dirty, dark and dangerous machine shop. Because if you look at a Class A shop, it’s anything but that.”

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