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Corning Glass Works - Z-Glass Project

Autor:   •  January 18, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,115 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,652 Views

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The Z-Glass a key product for Corning Glass Works experienced a longtime decline in yields and productivity since July 1977 and the entire Harrisburg plant organization was working overtime to rectify the problems faced. This further coincided with the company’s reduced profitability of other consumer products and escalation of costs for labor and basic materials. The organization saw the need to reemphasize their focus on process excellence and productivity rather than technical competence of the company in new product development. In December 1977, a team of engineers were assigned to the plant and they agreed to focus on long term process improvement through process definition and documentation while the line organization would focus on day to day operations. The key issue that hindered the success of the Z-Glass project was the conflict between Harrisburg plant organization and the M&E team which can be traced to incompatible goals, attitudes, emotions and behavior of the employees in the organization.


MacTavish the Harrisburg plant manager was a people’s person and believed the cause of root cause for declining yields and productivity was the inexperience of the new supervisors. The supervisors were relatively new and he emphasized that he required more time towards their training in order to improve their efficiency and increasing the yields. The M&E team plays an integral part in Corning’s ability to garner new market share and leverage existing opportunities. The M&E team’s function is to solve problems by implementing long term solutions that facilitate process and quality improvement. Despite of the capabilities and intent of the M&E team, MacTavish did not perceive them as problem solvers and credited them for causing disruptions in day to day operations. Due to his influence even employees from other divisions in the plant other than a few handfuls did not willingly corporate with the M&E team. Also no standards were developed or documented for the production process. Problems faced during each stage of the production process (Exhibit 1) was solved through trial and error rather than referring to established standards until the people involved were convinced that the problem had in fact been rectified. Furthermore, Blackburn, the person who introduced the Z-Glass process to Corning Glass works not only behaved as if he had total freedom to make any changes and experiment with the plant operations but also elevated MacTavish’s skepticism regarding the competence of the M&E team. He believed that since him along with MacTavish and the orignal Z-Glass process employees had more knowledge regarding the process the M&E team would never achieve what they could.

Although the sharp decline in yield seen in 1977 was certainly due to the replacement of the experienced supervisors with the inexperienced


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