Insourcing’s Boom

This is both an excellent business case study and a fantastic morality tale.

Faced with pressure from overseas manufacturing, a group of managers and workers at Applicance Park in Kentucky worked together to reimagine their dishwasher manufacturing line and their machine's design. The Atlantic's Charles Fishman tells the story:

(They) put together a group that included hourly employees and told it to completely reimagine dishwasher assembly. The group was given this crucial guarantee: regardless of the efficiencies it created, “no one will lose their job because of lean.” So the dishwasher team remade its own assembly line. It eliminated 35 percent of the labor.

What happened to the workers who were no longer needed for dishwasher assembly? (They) created another team and asked them to pick a dishwasher part they thought Appliance Park should, once again, be making itself. The team picked the top panel of the door — appliance people call it the “dishwasher escutcheon.” It’s the part you grab to open and close the dishwasher, where all the controls and buttons are. If you use a dishwasher, you touch the escutcheon.

…That’s how the outsourcing cycle starts to turn. Once you begin making the product itself, you get the itch to make the parts, too.

So, what's the moral of the story? The moral of the story is that if you trust people and their own unique creativity, great things can happen.

Can you share any similar situations in your own jobs or companies where you empowered workers to make process changes in the supply chain to benefit the company?

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4 comments on “Insourcing’s Boom

  1. Ariella
    April 3, 2013

    A great story and heartening moral!

  2. SP
    April 4, 2013

    Agreed these kinds of moral boosting is required in the organizations but hardly there are cases similiar to this. Delivery and revenue pressures never allow teams to do something creative and out of the way.

  3. Daniel
    April 4, 2013

    Brain, I think such rearrangement of responsibilities in ad-hock manner is so common in industry. Even we do in our company based on their profiles and skill sets.

  4. Daniel
    April 4, 2013

    SP, rearranging the team will helpful for maximum utilization of manpower. Even sometimes, we used to do other works like accounting, documentation etc as part of ad-hock arrangement. This will be very helpful in cost cutting and speedy process, rather than waiting for respective peoples to complete the works.

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