Goodyear’s Plant Optimization initiative: Foundational change for the way they work

Jan. 8, 2021
“Plant associates have transformed the culture of their teams.”

Goodyear recently standardized its operations across its plants around the globe. No easy task. The operating system—called Plant Optimization—is an integrated set of practices, indicators, enablers, and mindsets/behaviors that was created to deliver consistently strong and sustainable performance, according to Goodyear, which notes that the system focuses on empowering plant associates by providing the tools they need to identify issues and opportunities to solve problems, which helps close the skills gap. 

It’s interesting stuff. We wanted to learn more. So we connected with Ricardo Estok, Goodyear global director of plant optimization. Take a look…

Smart Industry: Describe the plant optimization project.

Ricardo: Goodyear plants are adopting Plant Optimization (PO) as “the way we work.” It is an operating system—not a project, program or set of tools as these things are finite in nature. It was created to standardize the processes in Goodyear’s manufacturing facilities through a disciplined pillar approach. The goal is to improve equipment reliability and identify and eliminate losses. As plants advance to higher levels of PO maturity, they deliver results in a more stable and productive way, which ultimately, provides long-term value for Goodyear customers. 

What’s unique about PO is that it’s based on a set of fundamentals, including people and environmental care. We empower plant associates by providing the capabilities and tools they need to identify issues and opportunities to solve problems, as well as build a culture of trust and protection with the environment and community. 

Smart Industry: How has the field of plant optimization changed over the years?

Ricardo: PO has been key to Goodyear’s Operational Excellence Strategy since 2013. From 2013-2014, Goodyear rolled out the first phase of PO, which focused on developing the operating system and pillar house. These pillars consist of different manufacturing methodologies, processes and metrics measured in terms of a plants’ maturity. These Pillars include Workplace Organization (WPO), Daily Equipment Care (DEC), Continuous Skills Development (CSD), Reliability Excellence (RE), Focused Improvement (FI), Quality (Q), Production Flow (PF), Early Equipment Management (EEM), and New Product Industrialization (NPI). 

Another component of the initial strategy included developing an overall method for plants across all the regions, conducting situation and gap analyses and prioritizing from there on how to close the gaps on the PO practices and processes.  

From 2015-2019, Goodyear plants across all regions continued to increase their PO capabilities and to deploy PO in waves, advancing their maturity by closing gaps at their own specific pace, as well as achieving deeper understanding of the “how” for the PO processes, tools, procedures, and measurements in order to realize Goodyear’s strategic goals.

In 2020, we spent a significant amount of time restructuring the team, reviewing the current state of PO and defining our mid and long-term strategy. We determined the following efforts would help Goodyear continue to advance PO: 

  • Leverage PO Academy, a 1-2-week, deep-dive training session, to develop associates’ knowledge and skills to close capability gaps, including a highly effective remote delivery method, leveraging e-tools for facilitation and participation. 
  • Train PO leadership to teach and coach the PO methodology.
  • Continue building a self-service, web-based application to access PO practices and maturity baselines, establish action plans and report real-time progress.
  • Strengthen the role of global PO pillar leaders as subject matter experts to globally drive functional pillar standardization and best practices.
  • Leverage regional PO leaders to drive the PO process and its maturity assessment across all plants within the regions.
  • Implement a formal standard annual-governance process to gather the “voice of the plants,” best practices and benchmarks in order to streamline and improve PO’s maturity assessment and overall process.
  • Launch a “One Goodyear Way of Production Flow” to ensure that plants’ value streams are delivering value—and nothing but value—to the customer.
  • Execute a formal strategy deployment process

Smart Industry: How are you empowering plant associates to make this dream a reality? 

Ricardo: For associates, PO makes their job easier and more pragmatic. It gives them the capability to apply knowledge and skills at the shop floor and improve their plant’s KPIs day in and day out. 

Additionally, we have a formal process in place for associates to share best practices and key learnings across plants. This process empowers associates to propose best practices in our system, which in turn, are reviewed by our PO leaders and have the potential to be certified as a new best practice. This helps boost employee engagement and recognition. 

Smart Industry: What was most surprising in this journey? 

Ricardo: It’s most exciting to see how passionate our plant associates are about PO. They eager to use PO as the plant driver for stabilization and improvements. They’ve also transformed the culture of their teams to make PO work, and they aren’t afraid to hold leadership accountable for support. 

Smart Industry: What was a quick win? Tricky challenge?

Ricardo: We don’t track quick wins in PO in terms of metrics. It is a long-term strategy that has yielded meaningful results overtime, including:

  • 16% reduction in safety recordable incidents 
  • Improvement in OE yield above 90%
  • 31% global gap closure in plant-maturity levels 
  • 13% improvement YTD in machine replication
  • 23% improvement in employee engagement

A tricky challenge was finding a way to objectively measure improvement or advancement in PO at a global level and by each pillar at each of the plants by one common way. It was key to establish clarity on the What and How of measuring the PO practices. In the end, we are all measuring PO maturity the same way across all 31 plants globally.