Textron Case Study
Textron Automotive Trim Sustains Ergonomic Improvement with Humantech
Textron Automotive Trim, recently acquired by Collins & Aikman, is one of the world’s largest suppliers of fully integrated automotive cockpits and a major automotive plastics manufacturer in North America, Europe, and South America. Textron’s trim operations include 41 facilities and approximately 12,000 employees located in seven countries around the world. Textron is also a global leader in product and manufacturing process technologies.
Humantech assisted Textron’s Automotive Trim division in deploying an effective ergonomics process that has reduced its work-related musculoskeletal disorder incidence rate 90% over seven years, an average of 26% per year.
In 1994, Textron undertook an initiative to better understand the types and causes of injuries and illnesses. The basic assumption was that defining the problem is 80% of the effort of defining the solution. At that time, musculoskeletal injuries (MSI), defined for tracking purposes as cumulative trauma disorders, strains, and sprains, were a major contributing factor to OSHA recordables. To better understand the problem, the company began tracking a musculoskeletal injury rate (MSIR). In 1994, the rate was calculated to be approximately 10 (10 musculoskeletal injuries per 100 full-time employees).
Plant-based improvement efforts, driven by increased awareness and a Textron philosophy that injuries are preventable and controllable, resulted in the MSIR decreasing 13% after one year. Textron’s Health and Safety staff recognized that an effective problem–solving approach should be applied consistently throughout the division to continue achieving improvements in this area.
Textron and Humantech deployed an approach to instill ergonomics problem-solving skills in key populations and to internalize plant population training delivery through a Train the Trainer program. Working with Humantech, Textron personnel customized a streamlined training course for engineers, line managers, supervisors, and health and safety committee members. Each plant had at least one health and safety professional and one engineer trained as a subject matter expert in ergonomic analysis and solution tools. This effort reduced the MSIR by more than half in the next two years.
The next step was to add an ergonomics review to the capital appropriations process to ensure that new tools and equipment were designed for human performance. By 1998, ergonomic design criteria were integrated into the equipment specification process. Ergonomic design guidelines were published as part of the Best Methods Manuals created for common manufacturing processes. This effort also reduced the MSIR by almost half in the following two years.
Textron’s ergonomics process matured further with the integration of ergonomics into the lean manufacturing initiative. Beginning in 2000, ergonomic training was deployed to lean teams with the inclusion of Humantech’s STEP™ (Standard Time Efficiency Process) method for quantifying the productivity impact of ergonomic improvements. The “pull” from productivity gains has accelerated the pace of workplace improvements and once again helped cut the MSIR by half in the following two years.
Textron’s multi-phase ergonomics initiative resulted in a 90% reduction in its MSIR, an average of 26% improvement each year for 7 years.