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Hassle busters keep ABB Robotics humming.

"People are our most important asset." Most companies endorse that statement, but, more often than not, it's little more than lip service. Not so at ABB Robotics Inc, New Berlin, WI, where several programs are in place, designed to get its "most important asset" involved in improving the manufacturing operation.

One of those is "Hassle Busters of the Month", which recognizes an individual who has eliminated a hassle for others in the company or, in some way, improved the workplace. Fellow employees make nominations, and a five-person committee, representing every area of the operation, selects the individual to be recognized. Committee members include both management and shop employees, and are rotated twice a year.

Each month, the Hassle Buster is pictured in the company newspaper, being congratulated by company president, Bob Brown. He also gets the use of a special parking place for the month, and is presented with an award (a watch, or the winner can elect to have pizza lunch for his or her department). Usually several persons are nominated monthly and all are recognized by having their names posted in the shop.

According to Mr Brown, the "Quality Improvement Process (of which the Hassle Busters program is only one part) must involve everyone. Employees know best what opportunities exist for improvement in their workplace and with customers. Management has to provide the resources and the environment to facilitate the change."

Efforts that are recognized range from installing a new computer system, which should have taken days, in just a few hours; to compressing a three-week electrical-cabinet modification into a week with teamwork and overtime; to revamping the previously labor-intensive process of positioning and bolting down a robot to a quick, one-person job.

The program is part of the Quality Improvement Process at the firm. Several other programs are in place to stimulate employee involvement, including ECR-Error Cause Removal, a carefully tracked, results-oriented suggestion system described by the company as "a very powerful tool for the elimination of hassles in our work groups."

The programs serve as acknowledgement that employees can, and have, taken the steps to be actively involved and achieve improvements in the quality process, Mr Brown explains.

Each suggestion is followed up closely by a supervisor, who is responsible for resolving it. Failing that, he or she passes it on to an action party to work on it.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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