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From Trash to Treasure

Recycling pallets generates big savings

May 21, 2014

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Employees Sharon Reynolds and Robin McCormick are sitting in chairs constructed from used pallets

Most people are familiar with recycling items like glass, paper and plastic at home or work, but what if you were able to re-use items in a way that resulted in more than $60,000 a year in savings? That is exactly what two employees did at Mopar® Center Line (Mich.) Complex, a facility that ships and expedites vehicle parts. Since the plant does not actually manufacture parts, it operates under World Class Logistics (WCL) methodology, an extension of World Class Manufacturing. Using techniques learned during WCL training, team leaders Robin McCormick and Sharon Reynolds found a way to make Earth Day an everyday event. The two women presented their “pallet-recycling” project at the Center Line Complex audit in January.

Grassroots Power

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Adirondack chairs constructed from old pallets

Each day the Mopar Center Line Complex receives stock from vendors on wooden pallets. Once the stock is removed from the pallets, an outside company collects them and pays Mopar pennies per pallet. The two women noticed that the used pallets were still  in good condition and had applications for more than a one-time use. After tracking the pallets for a three-month period, they identified 2,250 pallets for re-use or approximately 9,000 pallets a year. McCormick and Reynolds developed a new practice of having the vendor reuse the pallets when delivering new stock every month thereby avoiding the cost of $6.73 per pallet.

“In order to sustain this project, we created work instructions, pallet-tracking sheets and a layered-process auditing,” McCormick said. “We want to ensure this program continues. Our plan is to expand to other facilities and emphasize the usefulness of recycling.” At the board review, “the twins” as they have come to be known throughout the plant, prepared some refreshments and baked goods for the auditors, Luciano Massone, Head of WCM – Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Alessandro Leverano, WCM Lead, Knowledge, Management and Special Projects – EMEA, and displayed them on a pallet that had been made into a table. Also on display were two Adirondack chairs constructed from old pallets. The auditors were impressed by the thoroughness of the presentation and the passion with which it was delivered. Massone and Leverano were so taken by the presenters that they requested a photo with them.

Mopar Center Line Employees

(L-R) Alessandro Leverano, Robin McCormick, Anthony Fioritto-Focused Improvment Pillar Lead, Luciano Massone (seated), Dan Fuller-Environment Pillar Lead, Sharon Reynolds

“That was the highlight of our afternoon,” Reynolds said. “Seeing the auditors so engaged in the presentation reinforced the idea that that we were on track with our project.” Both women agreed that prior to WCL training it would have been difficult for the people on the floor to be involved in various types of projects addressing loss identification. “Since each suggestion is entered into a data base, a decision has to be made as to whether or not the ideas are pursued,” McCormick said. “With WCL in place, there is accountability for all the suggestions that are generated.” The women also made pamphlets to hand out to the auditors, co-workers and friends with information about various ways to use pallets.

Joyce Finley, Plant Manager—Center Line, was “ecstatic” from the feedback the auditors gave McCormick and Reynolds. “Center Line is defined by our core values of motivated, caring, valuable and eclectic,” Finley said. “Robin and Sharon exemplify these values each and every day. The plant benefits greatly from having them here.”