For the last several years, we have been applying a continuous improvement framework to our operations through our Continuous Business Excellence efforts. Through a disciplined approach to identifying and eliminating waste and continuously improving our business, we are developing sustainable process improvements. We are gaining a clearer understanding of our cost drivers and of the dynamics shaping our near- and longer-term workforce planning needs.
In addition, we have been applying the “Lean” process to our operations. Lean is a set of principles, tools and techniques for improving the operating performance of any business.
During 2011, we held more than 225 Lean events, almost a 10 percent increase over the prior year. The process changes resulting from these events are improving our safety and operational performance, enhancing the productivity and engagement of our employees, managing our rising costs and, ultimately, increasing customer satisfaction.