Compact Equipment

JUN 2018

Compact Equipment is a magazine dedicated to equipment owners and operators of small, nimble, tool-carrying construction, landscape and ag equipment — such as skid steers, mini excavators, compact tractors, generators compressors and beyond.

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Page 30 of 47 31 ventured to the John Deere-Hitachi manufacturing facility in Kernersville, N.C., to check out the new features on its line of excavators. But before we hop in the cab and tool around in the new diggers, it's important to understand the ecosystem from which that final product emerged. The Kernersville facility is sprawled over a 1 million-sq- ft campus, involving more than 800 employees building made-to-order 13- to 47-metric-ton excavators from "steel to real" in 8 days, and it would not happen as seamlessly as it does without the combined influence of both John Deere and Hitachi, a partnership celebrating its 30th anni- versary this year. Thirty years ago, the idea was to combine Deere's branding, marketing and North American dealer presence with Hitachi's hydraulic and excavation engi- neering expertise. Mission accomplished, but over those decades, there's also been a very real blending of Eastern and Western values that you can see throughout the entire facility — from the layout to the workflow to the excava- tors in the field. "The 30-year Deere-Hitachi partnership is unlike any other joint venture in the industry and is a testament to the longstanding mutual respect and dedication of our teams," said Jon Chase, president of Deere-Hitachi. "Com- bining the strength of Hitachi's world-leading hydraulic excavator technology with the resources and might of the 180-year-old John Deere brand, the alliance produces ex- cavators for the world's best customers." This starts with the concept of Kaizen, a Japanese word for small improvements that lead to the greater good. Kai- zen is a guiding principle of Deere-Hitachi. Chase told us a lot of these small improvements started with a new approach to manufacturing safety to prevent all accidents — the STOP program. Again, some small changes to each worker's routine, the number of safety audits done (one a week), a video screen at the entrance of the building that tabulates the number of consecutive incident-free hours of production — currently a record 6 million hours without a loss time injury. The STOP pro- gram dropped incidents by 300 percent, and the success of the program made them say "hey, why don't we take the same approach to quality assurance?" Touring the manufacturing facility revealed a collec- tion of Kaizen vignettes that would be easy to miss on their own amid the advanced welding robots, CNC ma- chining centers, plasma plate-cutting and ceiling high cranes transporting 25 tons at a time. There were the col- or-coded jig cut-outs as quick visual reference. The weld- ers pausing before welding shut a boom so those inside welds could be inspected (100 percent of all welds are inspected). The photos that adorn certain working spaces to show exactly how it should look at the end of the day (to minimize misplacement and clutter). The cutting ma- chines that were sunken into the floor versus plopped on top to improve ergonomics. We Find the Secret to the 30-Year Success of the Deere-Hitachi Line of Excavators OPERATION DEERE-HITACHI MISSION I

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