The Manitowoc Way “Lessons Learned” program encourages every employee to contribute to improving the way the company works, and that means customers get better cranes faster.
Manitowoc employees have learned 3,000 lessons over the last five years — and that’s no exaggeration. In 2017 the company started its “Lessons Learned” program in which employees submit their ideas for how to improve operations at the company, particularly when it comes to safety, product quality and efficiency. These lessons are then shared with the team members working at Manitowoc’s facilities around the world. At the end of each year, the ideas are tallied and the employee that came up with the most impactful idea is presented with a CEO award trophy for their contribution.
“The loss of creativity among a company’s employees is a huge waste of intellectual capital,” said Bruno Vecchi, VP of The Manitowoc Way. “We started this program to ensure that good ideas are not wasted, and instead, shared with the rest of the team. Additionally, when people retire or leave a company, their experience and knowledge often go with them. By formally organizing a system to capture great ideas, we can now pass this knowledge on.”
Five years ago, a new process improvement in manufacturing or factory upkeep that originated in France might not have made it quickly to China, for example. Under the Lessons Learned program, these advances are formalized and immediately shared with every region. This breeds uniformity and efficiency across the company’s worldwide manufacturing operations.
“People are very motivated to teach and help one another,” Bruno said. “This gives every team member the opportunity to improve our processes at the highest levels of planning.”
How customers benefit
Ultimately, Manitowoc customers benefit the most from the Lessons Learned competition. When manufacturing processes improve, they see the same level of quality in the cranes, but they are able to get them much faster, helping boost productivity and uptime on the jobsite. The competition has effectively shortened the lead time for new cranes while still accelerating continuous improvement in crane production.
“Customers are looking for two things: a crane with a high level of quality that is also available and delivered on time,” Bruno said. “The market has evolved over the years. We don't have time to wait weeks to deliver a crane. When a customer needs a crane on the job site, they need to get it commissioned quickly so they can continue to achieve their own business goals.”
Some examples of the Lessons Learned program in action include updating manufacturing processes, adding new tools, integrating programs that help employees perform better and much more.
“The Lessons Learned program has been a huge success at Manitowoc,” Bruno said. “We’ve tapped our single greatest resource — our people — to help design and manufacture better cranes with more efficiency and safety. Our customers may never see our behind-the-scenes efforts to improve their cranes and how quickly they can get them out on the job site. Rest assured, every single team member at Manitowoc is committed to these goals.”