Continuous Improvements Make a Big Impact

It takes all of us, every individual working at Deere, to lead our industries with groundbreaking innovations.

That’s why we encourage those working at our facilities to ask questions and recommend changes through a process called Continuous Improvement, or CI for short. Using message boards in our factories, anyone can share ideas for improving safety, quality and efficiency.

That was the case last year at John Deere’s Drivetrain Operations facility in Waterloo, Iowa, when Bryan Rodas, a machine operator, wondered if there was a way to improve a process in which phosphoric acid was used to wash shafts that go into our tractor transmissions.

“I’m very happy to have this Continuous Improvement program that we do. It helps employees on the floor have a voice to be more proactive to negative or adverse situations and most importantly to have better and safer working practices.”

Bryan Rodas, machine operator and UAW local 838 member at John Deere’s Drivetrain Operations in Waterloo, Iowa

Kale Larson, a manufacturing engineer, knew the process Rodas was referring to was cumbersome and resulted in occasional spills, which could take a week or more to clean up. With the help of others Larson did extensive research and with the help of Chris Bowser, another machine operator, they tested and learned the step wasn’t necessary.

“We have a robust Continuous Improvement process here. Everybody has bought into it. We go out and talk to the operator and find ways to make an even bigger impact. It makes it easier to accomplish not only these big projects, but day-to-day little things as well.”

Kale Larson, manufacturing engineer at John Deere’s Drivetrain Operations in Waterloo, Iowa

Eliminating the step saved John Deere and its customers $100,000 annually. Better yet, it made the manufacturing process safer while also eliminating the possibility of hazardous spills.

Bits and pieces

  • The Continuous Improvement (CI) process was recently acknowledged by Fast Company magazine when it named John Deere one of its “Best Workplaces for Innovators” for 2020.
  • Each year our CI process generates tens of thousands of innovations, all of which contribute to our success.
  • The CI process was first introduced at Deere facilities 20 years ago.
  • The Drivetrain Operations facility completed 3,370 CI projects in 2019.