Remaking the culture of the factories that made those products will take time, Restiotto said. But remaking any manufacturing culture takes time, said Michelle Hill, vice president for Oliver Wyman’s automotive and manufacturing industries practice in Detroit.
Hill consults with auto companies on establishing lean manufacturing practices. The Joyson effort is to get employees and managers on the same page for following standardized work steps, reducing material waste and systematically improving product quality.
“It’s a tough task,” Hill said of factory transformation in general. “You enter into this mission often making the people at a plant feel threatened, feel like their jobs are in jeopardy and feel guilty for past problems. You have to get past that psychology to get a plant enthusiastic about change.”
Hill said the task of introducing that new mindfulness also requires endless attention.
“There will always be the danger, at any plant, that as soon as management takes its foot off the throttle, progress will stop and things will go backwards,” she said.
Restiotto has already overcome an unexpected challenge in rolling out the new plant systems: the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first plant audits were undertaken through on-site visits, where inspectors could freely visit face-to-face with plant personnel, linger over production-line stations to observe and ask questions.
But with the safety protocols in place because of the pandemic, that was no longer possible. Restiotto and his team now meet via Zoom and observe workstations via cellphone cameras.
“It’s clearly not the same,” he said, “but we’re making it work. It’s very important that it work. And it will.”