Almost every work process can be improved, and we use continuous improvement to identify opportunities to do so. We implement new processes and then review the results to see if we have improved quality and efficiency and have reduced costs. No one knows how to improve a work process better than someone who is involved with it every day. By giving employees ownership and the freedom to find solutions, we foster employee entrepreneurship which, in turn, sparks creativity, innovation and prudent risk taking. We have celebrated many successes as a result.
Employees are focusing on more effective and efficient ways to perform their jobs.
Creating "lean" business processes started modestly as a pilot program at AEP’s Gavin Power Plant and quickly took on a life of its own. These principles and processes have since been introduced and completed at 12 power plants, 13 distribution districts, and portions of Procurement, Supply Chain and Fleet group, Transmission and IT. We have identified significant savings through these and other initiatives. Here are a couple of examples:
A review of the barge unloading system at the John E. Amos Plant near Winfield, W.Va., led us to invest in new barge equipment and river facility upgrades, allowing workers to unload a full barge at the same time as an empty barge pulls away. This is important to AEP because the more coal that can be unloaded from the river, the more cost-effective it is compared with other modes of transportation.
By employing "LEAN" practices, Unit 1 of our D.C. Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman, Mich., completed its shortest refueling outage in its 40-year history without injury to the thousands of people working at the site. This is a good example of how "LEAN" supports and safe operations and provides benefits to our employees, customers and investors at the same time.
The success of AEP’s 2013 engagement programs inspired AEP Transmission to launch "Bright Ideas & Sound Solutions" to continue collecting useful solutions for process improvements, cost savings and safety enhancements. The initiative taps the collective knowledge and experience of Transmission employees and contractors to help make the organization more efficient and competitive in today’s changing market. Through February 2015, Transmission received nearly 60 suggestions from employees on how we can improve various aspects of our business. These initiatives demonstrate that employee engagement and empowerment promotes entrepreneurial thinking which result in significant benefits to AEP.