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The H.W. Pirkey Power Plant, located in Hallsville, Texas, has been providing low-cost, reliable power to its customers since 1985. The plant’s operators were looking for a way to reduce costs through employee engagement.
Starting in 2013, Drew Seidel, the plant’s manager, began rolling out a system that incorporated open-book and lean concepts that employs daily, weekly, and monthly huddles, scoreboards and MiniGames to create transparency and engagement among the plant’s workers. The team also began the practice of forward forecasting as a way to be more productive rather than remain reactive to unexpected changes as it had in the past.
Seidel says that while the Pirkey plant has historically put up good numbers, it was constantly facing the challenge of dealing with changing market conditions and the ensuing budget pressures that result from working inside a larger corporation. “It’s been our task to find ways to cut waste and identify cost savings that allow us to do the things we need to do,” he says.
A big step in identifying those cost saving measures was increasing their huddle schedule from a weekly to a daily basis. They developed a daily plant scorecard to give a quick overview of the plant’s daily status in less than five minutes that is shared every morning with all the plant’s front line supervisors. “We have found this process creates strong alignment and helps educate all of us about our business,” says Seidel.
The plant also developed crew level scorecards which was a challenge given that some departments work on 12-hour rotating shifts. The team overcame that hurdle by creating combined scorecards to share shortly after midnight each day with the three departments on duty. “Each department is now more aware of how they affect the other departments and now work more closely together to manage those impacts,” says Seidel. Another step Seidel and his team has taken on is holding an annual high involvement planning exercise they call “path to the critical number” in which analyzing financial, marketplace, operational and people elements, they generate a business plan that is shared with every employee.
The success the Pirkey plant has experienced so far has been instrumental at helping other locations within the corporation design and play the Great Game as well. For example, three other plants, Wilkes Power Plant, Knox Lee Power Plant and Welsh Power
Plant, have successfully implemented management huddles and MiniGames and are making great progress on introducing their own crew-level scorecards.
“Lots of people come to Pirkey just to see what we’re doing and how we can get 80 people in a room for an hour pay attention and ask questions,” says Seidel. “They want that, too.”
- Last year, it generated 23% more power than it projected.
- When combined with power prices that were 32% higher than anticipated, Pirkey reported the highest gross margin in its operating history – which was returned to customers in the form of savings on their fuel rates.
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