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Highlight Stories

Building Leadership, Ownership & Opportunities within Manufacturing

In 2014, R.J Reynolds embarked on a journey to change the culture in its manufacturing operations. The company envisioned a culture of engaged employees, where production associates felt ownership of day-to-day operations and were empowered to act. Over the last several years, 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.

Continuous Improvement Teams – Focused on short-term process improvement or equipment improvement opportunities, such as:

  • The Filter Waste Team, which is responsible for reducing waste created in the filter-making process; and
  • The Maker STS Team, which is responsible for minimizing waste, defects and consumer complaints by optimizing Maker standard timing and settings.

Ways of Working Teams – Focused on long-term self-sufficiency improvements, such as:

  • The Production Associate Machine Cleaning Team, which is responsible for minimizing lost momentum during shift changes; and
  • The Maintenance Backlog Team, which is responsible for prioritizing maintenance and reducing weekend backlog work.

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.

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