Woodward Begins Remanufacturing

Woodward Begins RemanufacturingThe OpExChange held an event last week at Woodward’s Greenville plant. Dee Kalata, site Operations Director, and Joe Conway, Lean Six-Sigma master black belt, hosted the event and conducted a thorough plant tour. The Greenville facility is in the process of relaying out their facility to include the remanufacturing of fuel system components. Woodward demonstrated how they used systematic layout planning in this new venture. They also shared their “True North” vision, the daily management system (DMS), and leader standard work with the twelve manufacturing organizations participating in the event.


Woodward is an independent designer, manufacturer and service provider of energy control and optimization solutions for aerospace and industrial markets. Internationally, there are 42 facilities in 13 countries. This year marks their 150th year. Sales revenue in 2019 was $2.9 B, USD.

The Woodward corporation understands the importance of lean manufacturing and has been on their “True North” program for about 20 years. Every employee knows The Woodward Constitution which is a foundation for their True North vision. Their alliterative vision statement captures their enterprise goal – “One Woodward Without Waste.” The Greenville facility has been on the forefront of many of the corporate lean initiatives – from initial kaizen events and value stream mapping to high performance teams and quality culture into action.

Woodward production began in Greenville in 1997. The primary products produced at this facility are gas nozzles for land-based turbines. This is a vital component in that it controls both efficiency and emissions of the system. A single turbine can be extensive in size – as large as a railcar and generates between 100 and 300 megawatts of energy. Some processes employed at the Greenville site include vacuum brazing furnaces, electron beam welding, TIG welding (both manual and robotic), and CNC machining.


In 2019, the Greenville site was chosen to develop a new remanufacturing operation for fuel system components to support a global market. This exciting opportunity meant that a new business would be developed alongside their existing manufacturing operations. Space was made available by consolidating existing operations into the main building, leaving a brown field site available in the second building.

To address the challenge of designing an entirely new production operation involving processes new to them, they utilized a method called Systematic Layout Planning (SLP). Joe gave the team a high-level presentation on how SLP was used to layout the new building for the remanufactured product.

The SLP method began with defining the scope and environment of the reman business, and then evaluating process relationships and constraints between the 37 activity groups. This enabled development and assessment of several options. A 5-year forecast was utilized as a backdrop for this process. The outputs of the SLP process were a) General plant configuration; b) Detailed equipment layouts; and c) Implementation plans.

Tom Edwards (NPI leader) gave a deeper dive into the project on the shop floor. He showed how the project involved several layout iterations including “paper doll” models, block diagrams, and taping outlines of cells on the floor. Two essential elements to this process were simulating the workflow and the involvement with a cross-functional team, particularly production operators.


“True North” reflects the direction Woodward is focused on to achieve operational excellence. When you walk into any Woodward facility, you will find their standardized True North story board which contains the same fundamental information.

On the production floor, Dee walked the team through the Greenville board. It contains a “bowling chart” – a balanced scorecard showing all the key site metrics and a visual indication of performance over time. The key categories tracked are safety, quality, cost of purchased quality, past due dollars, first-pass yield, delivery, and inventory.
Dee stated that although they track both response to customer request and response to promise date, their key metric is the requested date. Woodward wants to focus on the customer’s true needs.


Woodward has adopted a leader standard work model that parallels the Deming Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. Their leader standard work centers around the Andon-Gemba-Reflection-Mentor model.

o Andon – This is the visual system Woodward created within Microsoft SharePoint. There is a visual indicator at the cell level that indicates the condition of the cell. For every red condition, an action is requested in the system requiring attention.

o Gemba – The Japanese word for workplace is Gemba (現場) which means “where the work is done.” Woodward knows that for leaders to be effective and engaged they must be present on the floor.

o Reflection – There are daily start-up, shift-hand off, and weekly reflection meetings to evaluate and refocus.

o Mentor – Member development and coaching are essential for continuous improvement. Coaching team members on the problem-solving process and lean education are part of this process.


Tasha Arnold is the operations leader and orchestrates “the whole shebang” of production operations. She presented the lean tower which is their metric board and visual focal point for the daily management system (DMS). Each morning the production team, engineering, supply chain, quality, and scheduling meet to discuss the status. Key information reviewed from the DMS are Safety, Quality, Delivery, Responsiveness, and Cost. Color-coded magnets are employed to indicate the status. Every red condition is entered into the Andon system in SharePoint. First responders are automatically e-mailed, triggering a response. Since implemented, the response time has dropped from an average of 2 hours to 5 minutes.


The two-and-a-half-hour visit concluded with a round-table bench-marking discussion between Woodward and the OpExChange team. This is one of the key benefits of OpExChange membership – gaining insight from a group of manufacturing experts. The team identified numerous items they saw that they could take back with them to their facilities. Also identified were several opportunities for Woodward to consider.

It I interesting to note that there were several peers in attendance who have broad experience in remanufacturing. One company has extensive expertise in remanufacturing and reverse logistics. Another individual holds 18 years of experience remanufacturing the same type of components as Woodward. As Woodward continues to grow in their remanufacturing business, the OpExChange members should be a great resource to draw upon.

All OpExChange members received electronic copies of Woodward’s lean tower DMS template, Gemba check sheet, the Gemba schedule, and Joe’s PowerPoint presentation.

The OpExChange is a peer-to-peer network of companies in South Carolina dedicated to learning and growing together. Member companies host events at their facilities and share practical examples of industrial automation, lean manufacturing improvements, and leadership development. It is an invaluable resource to member companies that provide access to others who are on similar improvement journeys. If you are interested in joining, contact Mike Demos (https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikedemos/ ) or visit https://opexchange.com/ for more information.

SCBIZtv is part of the SC Biz News family, serving 100,000 high-level business execs throughout South Carolina. Click for more from SCBIZtv.