faces of the frontline: manufacturing’s all stars

Dave Rios
Allied Wire & Cable

Jumping in to help at a moment’s notice, technology in hand

“I always look for those people that are going to step up and take things to the next level…And Dave just rose to the top of that heap of folks and just really embraced technology,” says Kevin Shayer, VP Operations and Supply Chain.

Take one dedicated frontline worker. Give them an opportunity to excel and the tools to make it happen. Then step out of the way — or you’ll get run over.

That’s exactly what happened when Dave Rios, Warehouse Supervisor at Allied Wire & Cable in Collegeville, Pennsylvania, realized that technology could empower his team to improve communication and operations. That is, after a little convincing.

Dave is the first to admit that he was skeptical when management brought in a new tool called Redzone. However, when his manager asked him to give it a chance, he decided to see how it could help the team. And he was glad he did. Once he saw its capabilities first-hand, he was hooked.

With his enthusiasm leading the way, Dave encouraged his teammates to give Redzone a try. They did, and the results were phenomenal, leading to a remarkable 166% increase in productivity for Allied Wire & Cable within the first 90 days of implementation. In that same period, the lead time for ‘Value Add’ service went from 15 days down to two days.

Dave’s supervisor, Kevin Shayer, said he looks for three things when determining who will be a leader on the floor: Do they get it? Do they want it? And can they do it? “Dave just gets it,” he says.

“He understands what we’re trying to do from a safety perspective and when we’re looking for how to make things better here. How do we drive improvement that’s beneficial not just for the bottom line but for the team members? He’s a driven person.” – Kevin Shayer, VP Operations and Supply Chain

Dave is dedicated to helping wherever needed and has the skills and initiative to jump in with any department in the warehouse on a moment’s notice, whether it’s ‘Value Add’, Quality, or Picking to Spooling. He’s happy to step into any department, huddle with the team, set goals, and motivate everyone to go out and do the job.

When there’s a problem, departments know they can call Dave at home and ask for help. His answer is always, “I’ll be there in five minutes.”

“We are examples to the people we lead every single day,” he says. “And let me say this: I’m nothing without my team.”

One thing Dave recognized right away is that collaboration tools are an efficient way to get information from the workers who know something to the workers who need to know it. This enables workers on the floor to act right away, instead of waiting for direction from a manager.

This improvement in communication led to a new process for maintenance requests. Previously, team members submitted maintenance requests to Dave to type up and submit when he had time. Sometimes he got to them, and sometimes he just plain forgot them.

Now, team members can document maintenance issues themselves through the Redzone platform, instead of handing them off to Dave for manual entry. This new process means maintenance can be handled in real-time while Dave tracks the requests on his iPad.

Anyone who works in manufacturing knows that you can’t talk about process improvement and productivity without a commitment to safety. Dave and the other leads at Allied Wire & Cable use the Redzone safety prompts to incorporate daily, weekly, and monthly safety talks into their routine, and include a safety message in every huddle. Maintenance requests and safety huddles may not have big productivity numbers attached to them, but they make everyone’s life easier.

Dave’s managers rave about how energetic, inspiring, and authentic Dave is. When they look for him, he’s the ‘orange blur’ on the warehouse floor. And he’s ready to enthusiastically support Redzone, telling anyone who asks why it’s such a game-changer. Allied Wire & Cable managers often host visitors from other companies who want to see how Redzone works in real life. When they arrive, Dave’s managers make sure he is one of the first stops on their tour.

His enthusiasm has made a difference. Management estimates that almost three-fourths of the team members actively use new technology thanks to cheerleaders like Dave.

Collaboration tools also give a voice to the warehouse’s ‘quiet performers,’ employees who normally do their jobs without calling attention to themselves. Some of the most reserved employees now have an opportunity to shine by leading huddles, creating maintenance requests, taking notes, and giving fellow team members recognition with ‘High Fives’ — and receiving a few ‘High Fives’ themselves.

Dave is a prime example of what every manager hopes their frontline employees will be: an enthusiastic leader and team player who’s always encouraging others to learn and grow.

Additional stories from Faces of the Frontline: Manufacturing’s All Stars.

Tales of Triumph from the Factory Floor, Vol.1

As part of our “Faces of the Frontline: Manufacturing’s All Stars” series, our eBook highlights some of the inspiring stories of frontline workers at BetterBody Foods, Gorilla Glue, Empire Bakery, Allied Wire & Cable, and ASR Group. Discover how they have not only transformed their company’s factories, but have also become true champions of innovation and all stars in manufacturing.