Motivation on the factory floor


When it comes to almost anything, a little friendly competition usually enhances things.

Volvo Trucks has taken this concept and adapted it to its seven Volvo Powertrain plants around the world, including the one in Hagerstown, MD.

A subsidiary of Volvo AB of Sweden, Volvo Powertrain develops, produces and supplies heavy diesel engines and transmissions.

I recently had the opportunity to tour the Volvo Powertrain plant in Köping, Sweden - a town about an hour and a half’s drive west of Stockholm.

Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia.

Come to find out that Volvo is headquartered not in Stockholm, but in Torslanda, outside Gothenburg. Sweden’s second largest city, Gothenburg is a gateway to the Western Archipelago.

While touring the Volvo Powertrain plant in Köping, I came across an unusual area in the middle of the facility. The space resembled an open air classroom - complete with bulletin and black boards.

Inquiring as to what this was, I was told by a top-ranking plant official that the location was the Operational Excellence Award area. Each of Volvo’s other six powertrain plants have similar areas.

The award was established about three months ago, the official said. The idea is to generate a friendly competition among the plants for ideas and suggestions that save money, reduce waste and increase efficiency.

Each month, one employee and one team are acknowledged with a certificate and acknowledgement throughout the Volvo Powertrain organization. The “winning” team and employee are chosen by a group of Powertrain officials.

But there is much more to the award than just submitting an idea or suggestion, noted the official. The implementation of the idea or suggestion has to be spelled out, and the resultant benefits or savings must be demonstrated.

The award program has been well received throughout the Volvo Powertrain, said the officials, and has already netted “impressive” results.