Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

November 26, 2012

Dana Corp. supplies heavy industry needs


Staff writer

CROSSVILLE — When heavy equipment goes down, the cost to a business can quickly add up. Dana Holding Corporation's Crossville Distribution Center gets the right part where it needs to be, keeping those machines of industry running.

"For some of our customers, having a piece of equipment down can cost $1 million a day in lost production," said Sherrita Monday, operations manager.

Dana Holding Corp. manufactures parts for light vehicle, off-highway, commercial and industrial machinery. Its parts can be found in big rigs, agricultural, construction and mining equipment around the world.

At Crossville, the primary work is distributing those parts and also assembling parts for kits. There are more than 36,000 different part numbers that come into the facility. Those are repackaged and stored, awaiting orders. Each day, about $1 million in parts is shipped. Orders ship by truck or next-day air, depending on the customer's needs.

Orders are also shipped around the world, with Dana delivering to 62 countries, including China, Brazil and Columbia.

Accuracy is key. Pickers are given a list of orders each day, and their work is not done until those orders are filled. Orders must be filled according to the customer's needs, and Dana has achieved a level of only five errors per 10,000 lines, with an average of 3,500 lines per day.

"Our percent of fill is at 94 percent in the last year," Monday said. "That's important for us. Every order has to be filled completely in order to count in that completion percentage."

Two years ago, a high-volume kitting operation was added to Crossville, bringing with it 10 new employees. Kitting involves gathering all the components needed for a certain task, such as rebuilding an axle, and packaging them together for convenience of the customer.

Last year, some light assembly work was moved to the Crossville Dana location from another location. There was a back log of orders to build transfer cases when the operation moved to Crossville. Through hard work and efficiency, that back log has disappeared.

Part of that efficiency is achieved through implementation of the Dana Operating System, which is based on the Toyota production system. This system added team leaders for each department who were trained specifically to look for possible problems.

"For years, we had no mid-level management personnel," explained Monday. "Now, there are two or three in each department. This helps us to identify potential problems and troubleshoot before there is an issue, or to identify ways to improve what we're doing."

Dana came to Crossville in 1989, occupying 180,000 square feet on Industrial Blvd. In 2006, another 50,000 square feet of warehouse space was added. There are 157 employees. More than 50 of those employees have more than five years of service with Dana.

"We offer fair treatment, a good wage and excellent benefits," said Ashley Riggins, human resources manager.

Carl Deck, safety coordinator, added, "It's a clean, safe work environment."

Safety is a priority at the company. From handling heavy parts to forklift traffic and repetitive tasks, there are many opportunities for injuries at Dana, but the location had gone more than four years without a lost-time accident at one time — more than 1.5 million man hours. The facility has been accident free since February of this year.

"We have an in-house committee to address concerns before accidents happen," explained Deck. "We also have an in-depth safety training program for new hires and refreshers for employees that have been her a while."

They also make practicing safe work habits fun, offering incentives such as extra time off for months without accidents and playing Safety Bingo. For every day worked without an accident, a number is drawn and money added to a pot. The employee getting bingo first wins the pot.

And while looking after their employees is a priority for the company, looking after the community is a priority for the employees. Many take part in employee giving to the United Fund of Cumberland County and additional funding is sought through the Dana Foundation, adding $6,000 to the company's total donation last year.

Employees also come together with fundraisers, such as meals or taking donations, to help co-workers who've come upon hard times, but there's one annual project that brings smiles to all their faces. Each year, stockings are hung in the cafeteria for employees to choose. Those stockings belong to children in local Head Start centers and include information on their Christmas gift wishes, as well as clothing and shoe sizes. Employees gather gifts for each child, wrapping them with ribbons and bows and host a Christmas party event for the children and their parents, complete with a visit from Old Saint Nick.

It's a long-standing project that started more than 17 years ago. This year, there are 57 stockings that will be distributed.

"Things like that, the employees are all over it," Carl said. "And, we have a lot of fun with it."

Riggins agreed, "This is a generous bunch."

There are also efforts to reduce impact on the environment, with employees reusing as much of the packing material as possible. Boxes can be reused or turned into dunnage to use in packing. Excess cardboard is baled and recycled.

The warehouse space is not air conditioned, which can become uncomfortable for employees on hot summer days. To bring a little relief and cool the area efficiently, fans blow into tubes that inflate and are vented over work spaces.

To learn more about Dana Holding Corp., visit the website www.dana.com.