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Thermo Fisher’s Culture of an Operational Excellence Mindset

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Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Greenville, North Carolina manufacturing campus has been recognized as a 2021 IndustryWeek Best Plants Award winner. The site has some 1.5 million square feet under roof across multiple buildings, on 640 acres, with nearly 487,000 square feet devoted to manufacturing operations. In December 2020, Thermo Fisher announced a $500 million investment at the campus to expand with the addition of a 130,000 square foot facility, and 500 new jobs.

This required the hiring and training of hundreds of people during a time of well-publicized labor shortages across the nation and, of course, a pandemic. Thermo Fisher’s need to ramp up its workforce without losing focus on quality and productivity was a huge challenge that the Thermo Fisher Scientific Greenville team managed successfully, qualifying them to be named a 2021 IW Best Plants Award winner.

The Greenville team’s success is a reflection of Thermo Fisher’s focus on building a corporate culture that strengthens their business. “We believe that a positive working environment is built on empowerment, trust, continuous improvement and inclusion.”  Watch: Thermo Fisher’s video about ti’s culture of innovation. 

Integral to encouraging all colleagues to help shape and cultivate this culture is Thermo Fisher’s PPI (Practical Process Improvement) Business System. PPI is a key element within all Thermo Fisher business operations that engages colleagues to continuously improve productivity, the quality of products and services, and ultimately, to build customer allegiance.

Thermo Fisher’s PPI team recently strengthened their program with the adoption of Rever, a digital frontline innovation and operational excellence platform. PPI’s goals for the Rever initiative are the following:

  1. A unified platform to simplify entry from idea to benefit realization; enable universal searching, connect people and ideas, and create space to solve daily challenges, and consolidate reporting and analytics. 
  2. The digitization and standardization of PPI idea capture and project tracking. Increase the engagement of colleagues in PPI activities by making the activities more accessible and the tools easier to use. 
  3. Create a space in which colleagues can collaborate without barriers and be recognized and rewarded for their involvement. 

More about Thermo Fisher’s PPI Program (from the recent article Thermo Fisher Scientific Campus Recognized as 2021 IndustryWeek Best Plants Winner by Jill Jusko, Aug 27, 2021):

Absent an operational excellence mindset, growth and improvements at Greenville’s operations couldn’t happen. At Thermo Fisher Scientific, Practical Process Improvement (PPI) provides the foundation for continuous improvement and aims to build a culture of problem-solving and engagement.

Remember the tier board set up in Thermo Fisher’s training center? It’s a piece of the tools and practices that comprises the PPI system. More specifically, it is part of a tiered accountability system that spans the shop floor to the upper reaches of management. It’s presented as a learning tool in the training center because it’s simply essential for everyone to understand the organization’s continuous improvement philosophy.

A small team leads PPI activities across the site, but it’s everybody’s business. For example, 92% of all employees have engaged in operational excellence training, events or project participation.

“People get a taste of [PPI] from Day 1 and it becomes a cadence,” Logan says.

What’s also become a cadence at this Thermo Fisher Scientific site is growth. By all accounts, the Greenville team is building a workforce ready and willing to take up the challenge.


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Watch 60-sec Intro of Rever

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