Reducing Costly Errors and Equipment Downtime in Manufacturing Plant

Regional manufacturer of private label food products,
including packaging and other related services.

Case Studies


An employee survey revealed that production workers felt their supervisors bossed them instead of listening to them, explaining assignments, and adequately reviewing employee ideas and concerns. Employees felt their expertise and cooperation didn’t matter. This negative work environment resulted in equipment malfunctions; wasted product and containers; stopped production lines; costly equipment repairs; and delayed orders to customers.


1. Fact-finding interviews were conducted with representative employee groups; supervisors; and plant management. Based on the interviews and employee survey, 12 key communication skills and strategies were identified and detailed.

2. Supervisors attended multiple sessions over a period of time to reduce their time off the floor; not overload them; and provide an opportunity to use new skills on the plant floor while the program was being conducted.

3. The trainer observed supervisors on the plant floor and provided individual feedback; supervisors reported on their use of new skills and results they achieved; employees also provided input and feedback. Some program adjustments and improvements were made as needed.

4. Various measures were recorded by plant management, including productivity levels; OTD or on time delivery to customers; employee and supervisor complaints; wasted product or containers; equipment and line malfunction; and costs of equipment damage and repairs.


Employees drafted an “Error Policy & Procedure” for use with supervisors and plant management to eliminate blame and criticism regarding errors, including how to prevent and resolve them. It was accepted.

Equipment malfunctions, product damage, production line shut downs, and costly repairs were substantially reduced, leading management to thank employees for their efforts.

OTD or on time delivery of customer orders improved.

The costs of product and container waste declined.

A follow up employee survey indicated significant improvement in the areas targeted.

 Free people to communicate & do more productive work.

Conversations at Work helps people in organizations have the workplace
conversations they’ve been avoiding—and improve productivity.

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