The Harley-Davidson trike manufacturing line and a frame welding operation are used by Harley-Davidson as pilots for testing new work structures. The goal is to produce the best possible quality motorcycles with the least amount of waste of any kind, time, energy and money. The systems are an empowerment movement of the workforce to find better ways to make bikes. It’s called the “Harley Continuous Improvement System”. Some diagrams looking like football plays are used to show who and what goes where and at what times in the process. The best diagrams are compact, with little wasted energy around the bike.
The Harley system is largely inspired by the one Toyota has made famous in the manufacturing world. On traditional assembly lines management is telling workers what to do. With the new system, there is a constant analysis of the workflow with workers encouraged to speak up when needed to do the job right and efficiently. Management must take all suggestions seriously, evaluate, test and provide employees with what they request for the sake of a better product. Being listened to and becoming more and more involved in the way motorcycles are being built provide workers with an extra feeling of pride and of “ownership” of the motorcycles they produce. Many employees had wanted to be a part of the Harley solution. Following this system, the trike line 30 employees were already being able to produce 3 more trikes every day. As we all know, in business proof of a definitive success is in the bottom line. If completely successful, the new production system will be progressively rolled out to all motorcycle fabrication operations and assembly lines.