faces of the frontline: manufacturing’s all stars

Roy Barron
ASR Group

He doesn’t give up until he fixes the problem

Just outside of New Orleans, at the bustling Domino® Sugar Chalmette Refinery, there’s a legend among the gears and conveyor belts, known affectionately as ‘Redzone Roy.’

Roy Barron, an automated machine mechanic, has created a reputation for dedication and innovation through 18 years of service at the plant, owned by American Sugar Refining, Inc., a member of ASR Group. While he is known to be a ‘master mechanic,’ his journey is not just about maintaining machines — he’s crafted a legacy of problem solving and collaboration by embracing technology.

When Redzone was introduced, Roy was the first to dive in, eager to learn as much as possible about how the platform could help him and his team better build and maintain the plant. He read up on the software and started adding comments, pictures, and ‘High Fives’ to encourage and support his team. From Day One, he became a Redzone cheerleader, encouraging everyone to use it.

He loves that, through Redzone, he receives real-time feedback about what’s happening in the plant. For him, it’s an excellent way for him to be a proactive resource to his team — the information helps him understand where and when he can offer help and support to his mechanics and how he can mentor them through their careers. “The communications abilities of Redzone are phenomenal,” Roy says. “Everybody signs into their tablet. I can pick mine up and find out who’s doing quality checks. I can find out if somebody’s about to run out of something. I can go over there and help them get it done.” And his influence hasn’t just proliferated to junior mechanics, who are often placed in his sector to be inspired by his leadership. He also influences his teammates, plant managers, and executives.

Roy has motivated the mechanics to use Redzone the way it’s supposed to be used. And also to fix the machines the way they’re supposed to. He’s very motivating for everyone involved, even those at the top of the company.” – Will Valley, ASR Group Packaging Engineer

Even after almost two decades at the Chalmette Refinery, Roy never becomes complacent. He sees every project to the end and searches for opportunities to improve and grow on a day-to-day basis. And he expects the same from everyone else at the plant — when plant leaders come to him to make tough decisions, he isn’t afraid to push back. His only goal is to make sure the right solution is put in place.

His truest core value is excellence. His attitude, his behavior is contagious, and everybody around him — hourly and salary — benefit from it,” says Jess Landry, Operations Trainer.

This became very evident when Roy noticed a problem with the dribble gates in the plant’s Thiele baggers — their three most profitable machines. For years, the mechanics had been regularly cleaning, rebuilding, and even replacing the dribble gates of these machines because they would malfunction from sugar build-up. The time and equipment cost of replacing them was substantial.

Roy had a better idea.

He believed he could modify the machines to reduce the impact of sugar build-up. He added his idea to Redzone, which was recognized and supported by the maintenance manager before the day was out. With such a fast approval, Roy was able to start on the solution right away. He pulled one of the machines apart and constructed a workaround that would apply positive air pressure to the dribble gates to reduce the sugar build-up and extend the life of the Thiele baggers.

Even as he was executing the fix, he didn’t know for sure if it would work. But time would tell.

Two months later, he pulled out his modified machine and a standard, unmodified machine and compared the sugar build-up. The standard machine was full of sugar, as usual. His modified machine had no sugar.

“I was super stoked,” Roy says.

With the leadership team behind him, he standardized the modification in Redzone and installed it on all three baggers. The lifecycle of the dribble gates has now improved by 300% and the company saves $67,000 a year with Roy’s solution. And the Thiele area has the highest Redzone usage in the plant.

Fixing this problem was not in Roy’s job description, nor was there an expectation that he would find ways to make machines more profitable. But he still did it. Because the plant needed it, and he believed he could find a way.

“He won’t give up without fixing the problem. He wants to prove he can do it,” says Bobby Gibbs, Supervisor.

Roy’s hard work using and championing Redzone paid off in other ways as well. Soon after, he earned a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification — a recognition that previously had never been earned by an hourly employee at ASR. And he achieved it faster than most employees: in eight weeks rather than several months. Now he’s working on a green belt project. He also won QAD Redzone’s Frontline MVP of the Year Award in 2022.

At the heart of Roy’s efforts and achievements is a desire to learn and grow as a person and help others do the same. If he can’t fix a problem on the first try, it isn’t a failure for him; he takes it as a challenge. It gives him a reason to try something new and push himself until he finds a solution that accomplishes his objective. He uses this same proactive approach to mentoring his team. “You get back what you give,” he says. “If I give my all, usually I get their all.”

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.