The Best NOV Facility? Part 2 Transcript


00:13 Michael Gaines:
Hello, and welcome to NOV Today. I'm your host Michael Gaines. In the last episode, we met Bob Bruce and gained some insight into an amazing facility that takes conventional wisdom surrounding how facilities are run and turns it on its head. As we discussed in the last episode, Bob is a very energetic upbeat kind of guy. He shared that when he first moved into his role there was a lot of hard work required to get to where they are today.

00:41 Bob Bruce: Because what we used to have previously was, this whole layer of management and this whole layer of supervisory. It was just for... Not going to the top floor to talk to me, it would have been hard to go through seven layers to speak to me. For me, soon as I saw that I was like, "This is not going to work." We stripped all that layers out. So five is all we've got now is, but I had previously was a Team Leader, Charge Hand, Supervisor, Production Manager, Manufacturing Manager and then we had the Plant Manager after that. So we had all that layers. Now I stripped it back to Sale Leader, Manager, Plant Manager.

01:27 Michael Gaines: The way we look at the opportunities and challenges in front of us each day can oftentimes be influenced by our individual backgrounds and life experiences. For Bob, his background contains a very interesting list of ingredients.

01:42 Bob Bruce:
I'll throw a question to you guys, what do you think my background is? That's a fleeting question for you guys there. You think it's a manufacturing background? 

01:56 Michael Gaines:
No, I know it's not. I would say maybe education? Education? Something along those lines? 

02:06 Bob Bruce: I'll just go on about me because I... This is an example of what NOV has done for me. I am a qualified chef. When I left school, that's all I wanted to do. So I got my qualifications, I qualified and then I had a family and that completely changes your mindset. So I started here as a Storeman. I was a Storeman with no oil and gas experience at all, nothing at all. Started here 17 years ago in the stores, 23 when I started here. So for me, I personally have worked my way up this business and NOV has given me that, has allowed me to do the that, has put me to university, has put me to college, getting my qualifications. So for me, I've worked my way right up through the ranks as Storeman, Store Lead, Store Charge Hand, Store Supervisor and I was Production Coordinator, Production Manager, Manufacturing Manager. Then, I was Production Manager then I left, came back as Process Improvement, then back here as Manufacturing Manager and Plant Manager. But NOV's given me lot of opportunities by putting me through various courses, guiding me in the right way. Allowing me to do things like Toyota, the traveling globally, going to the NOV University at Rice, spent a year there and so that's the journey I've been on and for me I'm just elated by where I am. I'm just... I'm loving it. So it's great, it's great.

03:52 Bob Bruce: And for me, that is what I want to do with my employees is take the key people that are stars and bring them through. I've got a Production Manager here who started here as an Apprentice Welder, she's now one of my Production Managers and she's now one of my best Production Managers. She's fantastic. That is just another example of what we've done and took people along the journey. She's been here 22 years and as I said, she started here as an apprentice, straight out of school, 16, and she's now one of the Production Managers. There's lots of examples like that here on this facility, where people have come in to do as our apprentices, as storemen, as production coordinators, as buyers and we have managed to develop them and as we, when I say we, have developed that people through the business and that's what makes a difference. It's the people, it's definitely the people side of it.

04:53 Michael Gaines: Behind Bob and his charge to reinvent the facility, is his manager, Will Dowell. A keenly insightful and driven individual, Will has an unmistakable focus on performance, results and delivering on his promise to our customers. He is highly self-aware and understands that his style and approach has a very specific flavor, as he shared with me.

05:16 Will Dowell: Bob and I are different individuals. And so, I'm a real pain in the.



05:26 Bob Bruce:

05:28 Michael Gaines: Good self-assessment.

05:29 Bob Bruce: Yeah, that's good. Yeah.


05:30 Will Dowell: Nothing is ever good enough. And however, by contrast those... 99% isn't good enough. That one percent, every now and again, works and the high of finding that is just brilliant as far I'm concerned. And where people step up and really deliver, I get such a sense of satisfaction for that. Or we have a process put in place, which just hums and it just works.

06:00 Michael Gaines: He also believes that everyone, no matter their role or position on the team, has a duty to understand the fundamentals of the business.

06:07 Will Dowell: My career journey coming into this is learning and understanding what customers desire. Then I moved into the General Manager role for the Westhill site as it was before we relocated and that was a fantastic exposure for actually meeting the customer and then understanding realistically why they wanted those changes, why they want certain items and it can be for campaigns they're working on, to reduce their operating cost, et cetera. And so then to have full PNL responsibility is incredibly empowering, hugely empowering. And for me, the sort of journey that I went through was to discover and learn the responsibility I had as a leader of the people who operated at that site, was to take what the customer wanted from us and get that workforce to deliver it as they wanted it.

07:08 Will Dowell: Now as I said, that's actually really liberating, but it comes with that shoulder of responsibility. And so what I always, always have tried to do, is inspire and talk to the staff and try to put it into layman's terms, so they understood what was driving the business. It's the customers, yeah, we know it's the customers that drives the business, but what's actually making us do what we should be doing every day? And so, I held quarterly reviews just with the staff to portray that, to give them that feedback and I've always attempted to try and do it in an honest, open fashion that I have a duty to let everyone understand it; not talking in language that confuses people just because it sounds like great business jargon but to actually get people to understand what they're trying to do every day.

08:00 Michael Gaines: As mentioned in the previous episode, many of the elements that are ingrained in this facility and make up the foundation of how they operate came from many other NOV facilities, as well as from Toyota Motor Corporation. Will shared more.

08:17 Will Dowell:
I think we, Bob and I, went to Toyota for some inspiration and it was fantastic and whilst we're not an automotive manufacturer, manufacturing is manufacturing; we are making things, right? And so it would be remiss of us just to dismiss what Toyota are doing because they make cars and wholly stupid of us to take that approach. And so what we've looked at is just how well and how holistic their Toyota production system is and how joined up thinking there is across the whole site. So let me give you one example, they believe whole heartedly in visual management and so do we, but now absolutely this is the vision of where we should be. Anything you're managing should be visual. You should be able to see, as a lay person into that area, you should be able to see what's going on. You should be able to see something where there is a bottleneck in the process. And so that stems from the physical, what's on the shop floor, but also into the metrics, the KPIs. And the other major part of visual management is once you can see it, but you also need to be managing it as well.

09:33 Will Dowell:
And so when you walk into Toyota, and now you probably saw them as you went round the site here, the visual management boards. Toyota's visual management boards are circa 20 foot long, eight foot high. They meet every morning at 7:30... 7:15, they arrive for the meeting at 7:30. They don't get paid 'til 7:45 AM. So the people themselves have... Now I'm not advocating unpaid labor here, but that is the pride of the employees within Toyota. They turn up before they get paid so they can have their 15 minute stand-up discussion about what happened yesterday, what's gonna happen today and the key metrics that's going on. They display all of their dirty washing at that point, "I was late because X, Y and Zed, and this is what I'm gonna do about it. This is my action plan." Et cetera. And so that inclusion of shop floor employees, of everyone, and it's most, most important, that it is a level playing field into that.

10:31 Will Dowell: Everyone should come along. They can observe. No one could interrupt the meeting, the meeting will run, but it's important for the likes of Bob, myself or whoever, just observe and they see that interaction of the employees. When you see that happening, and you see that joined up problem identification, problem solving, and the interaction with the shop floor and the shop floor actually solving their own problems and seeing that to fruition, you know you have a site that's working really well. When customers come in, it feels right. They know that you care. They can see you care. You're not running around firefighting. So that's one sort of example of how we should be operating across all of these sites. That is world class. That is world class.

11:21 Michael Gaines: So that's our introduction to the best NOV facility in the world. Is it too much to bestow such a grandiose title on Kintore? Is there another facility that can give Kintore a run for their money? That's what I'm out to discover. If you have a contender, feel free to send my way, but just know that this place is quite impressive. I'll leave you with this from Will when asked whether he thought they had arrived.

11:48 Will Dowell: We have a lot of work to do in standardizing how we operate. We have started to do that through our measurement of the data of our on-time delivery, of our standardizing our KPIs, et cetera. We've got work to do on our... Even standardizing our line marking and how the look and the feel of the sites come together. Potentially the coveralls that the guys wear et cetera, and so we will go through and create a much, much more professional business. It's a wonderful, wonderful future we've got in front of us, but I can only do that if we have the right people in the right places and it's really, really vital for me. I need, at a Plant Manager level, I need inspirational people who the employees can follow and can really, really be inspired and that deserve to be in those positions.

12:47 Michael Gaines: As I stepped out of the glistening facility and was embraced by the frigid evening wind blowing off the North Sea, I felt as though I had just come from some kind of manufacturing facility of the future, if there could be such a thing. A place where the best parts of manufacturing processes, technology, psychology, human factors, team building and leadership, all collided into one space. A place where efficiency and racing to the finish line always takes a back seat to treating people like people. But the good news was that it wasn't the future, it was a present here at NOV. And while this still may have been but one example, it was an encouraging reminder of the potential that lies within each of us to be a Bob Bruce or a Will Dowell. It was exciting to know that we each possess the ability to be able to create what was only once thought to be unimaginable, to create a place where contributions can grow from just a mustard seed of an idea into a full bloomed reality and a place where accountability, encouragement, determination and an insatiable appetite for excellence, drive us to the finish line.


14:03 Michael Gaines:
Thanks for listening to this episode of NOV Today. We'd like to hear your feedback. Share your thoughts by tweeting us @NOVGlobal and using the #NOVToday. Or, you can contact us by sending an email to [email protected]. To stay up-to-date on the latest episodes, visit our website, at There you can find show summaries and links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud or wherever you get your favorite podcasts. For NOV Today, I'm Michael Gaines. Thanks for listening and we'll talk to you later.