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Highlight Stories

Building Leadership, Ownership & Opportunities within Manufacturing

R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company’s journey to change the culture in its manufacturing operations is paying dividends. The company envisioned a culture of engaged employees, where production associates felt ownership of day-to-day operations and were empowered to act. Since 2014, R.J. Reynolds has enacted this vision through Project BLOOM (Building Leadership, Ownership and Opportunities within Manufacturing).

Project BLOOM began with the creation of Focus Improvement Teams (FITs), which worked to identify, facilitate and accelerate process improvements. Composed of production associates, these teams transitioned tactical decision making from R.J. Reynolds' management, providing members leadership and team-building experience. Over time, BLOOM evolved into two types of hourly production associate-led teams.

In addition to the creation of Continuous Improvement and Ways of Working Teams, R.J. Reynolds operations transitioned the Make and Pack production floor from manager-led to hourly employee-led. This process included promoting 12 employees to the role of supervisor, providing new career development opportunities for production associates.

The success of Project BLOOM is also evident in these other employee-led success stories: 

  • Capsule Waste Team – This team investigated and resolved issues related to domestic capsule waste, resulting in the upgrade of software for capsule filter inline inspection. False rejects were reduced by over 1,000,000 per quarter resulting in approximately $60,000 in annual savings to the company.
  • Capsule Waste Team – This team successfully reduced capsule kick-outs at startup by investigating and installing a hardware and software modification to sync the inserter wheel with the filter tow process more quickly. This team’s work resulted in a 90% reduction in start-up waste.
  • RCC83 Team – This team analyzed Packer reject data and identified solutions to help reduce reject rates associated with these Packers. The team installed auto pack-out kits on 10 complexes resulting in $259,000 per year in savings.

R.J. Reynolds shares these best practices with RAI’s other operating companies through Project ROSE (Realization of Operations Sustainable Excellence).