Silo is a 4 letter word!

Silo is a 4 letter word!

As self-proclaimed “quality nerds,” Rocky Pinheiro and Mike Payionk of fastening solutions manufacturer PennEngineering speak about quality with exactly what nerd implies — passion, expertise, and arcane knowledge. 

Rocky, who holds a Ph.D. in management, spent 25 years in manufacturing before arriving at PennEngineering. Most of his career was in the automotive industry, including 13 years at various iterations of Fiat Chrysler. 

A Michigan native, Mike grew up surrounded by automotive manufacturing. Like Rocky, he spent most of the past two decades working in the industry with a focus on quality control.

Rocky and Mike love to geek out on data, which they use to help manufacturing plants operate at a higher level. In this episode, they discuss the key role automation plays in making it all possible, as well as their unique style of facilitating interdepartmental communication.

Themes discussed in this episode: 

  • How to sell the idea of automation to client organizations that may be initially reluctant to adopt it 
  • Rocky and Mike’s “U.N. diplomat” approach to communication and how they use it to break down silos
  • How automating their quality management system helped create a plant-level system for employees to step right into after COVID
  • Rocky and Mike’s “industry 4.0 journey” toward goals of improving technology and data gathering
  • Why automotive supply chain leaders need to acknowledge their blind spots to help improve quality issues 

Featured Guests: 

Name: Rocky Pinheiro

Title: Global Vice President of Quality, PennEngineering

What he does: Rocky ensures that organizational communication is ongoing and transparent between silos at PennEngineering, which is a decentralized organization. An auto industry veteran, he credits a brief stint working to implement lean methodology at Detroit Medical Center for his customer-centric approach.

Connect: Linkedin

Name: Mike Payionk

Title: Quality Control Program Manager, PennEngineering

What he does: Mike manages PennEngineering’s Enterprise Quality Management System and is a stakeholder for its supplier onboarding and management. Also an automotive industry veteran, he helps ensure best practices are consistent in PennEngineering’s 11 manufacturing plants across the globe.

Connect: LinkedIn 

Episode Highlights

Timestamped inflection points from the show

[1:45Forged in steel: PennEngineering’s Rocky Pinheiro is a quality expert with over 25 years of experience in heavy manufacturing, the bulk of it in the automotive industry. He spent 13 years at Fiat Chrysler. 

[3:20] Early exposure:  Rocky’s colleague Mike Payionk also represents a wealth of experience in automotive manufacturing, with the better part of two decades spent in quality control. 

[4:53] Same process, different applications: Automation is crucial to PennEngineering’s work. It provides critical lead time to supply automotive clients, who have very specific deadlines, processes, and systems for manufacturing their products. Consumer electronics clients rely on automation to shorten the time it takes to develop the initial versions of their products from ideation to build. 

[5:53] The buy-in: Automation must be implemented in order to work. Rocky says end users must be involved and invested in the automation process from the very beginning. 

[7:16] Key automation category: Automating the CAPA (Corrective and Preventive Action) system made the most dramatic difference for Rocky and Mike’s team, in terms of automating nonconformances data. “It felt like overnight we went from not understanding what was happening on the plant floor to completely understanding what was happening on the plant floor,” Mike says. 

[10:26] Clear communication, hard data: Automation enabled one of the firm’s biggest wins: For the first time, PennEngineering used true quantitative processes to illustrate the performance levels of businesses that are often small and family-owned. 

[13:54] Ruthless, yet diplomatic: Rocky calls the team’s approach to communication — specifically to breaking down silos and pulling team members around the world into organization-wide discussions — “ruthless.” But he says it’s also a “U.N. diplomat approach.” 

[15:21] Work-in-progress: Rocky and Mike are about a year into what they call their “industry 4.0 journey,” a project campaign with two functional goals: improving technology around manufacturing processes and improving data gathering with a dashboard format that communicates new findings at both plant and executive levels. 

[17:03] The one thing: To convince an organization to transition from spreadsheets to automation, first identify its pain points. Then connect the company to a provider that’s going to treat it (and you) like true partners, Rocky says. 

[19:32] The one thing: Mike says continuously collecting data is essential to helping companies improve their quality issues, even if they’re still using spreadsheets.

Top quotes

[5:53] Rocky: “The most important thing we’ve learned [about selling automation to end-users]   is involving the end user upfront. You have to get the buy-in upfront. Without end-user input and end-user buy-in, you will fail. I don’t care how good the tool is or how invested or energetic your top-of-the-house is. If the end-users are not buying what you’re selling, you’re going to fail.” 

[7:33] Mike: “As we started to automate [our CAPA system], it really captured what was happening on the plant floor, what was happening in a global aspect, all that information. It felt like overnight, we went from not understanding what was happening on the plant floor to completely understanding what was happening on the plant floor.” 

[13:21] Mike: “We were already trying to connect our plants globally via one system before COVID was even a thing. After, it just kind of flowed … and we had normal usage.” 

[13:51] Rocky: “Silo — that is a four-letter word for sure. We are ruthless in communication. We're like disruptors in our world. We take this ‘U.N. diplomat’ approach of …  getting [people] involved in a lot of communication, bringing people into the team, and having conversations around what we want to do and how we want to do it. And getting their input and getting their feedback. Because we run a decentralized model in our company, we are dealing with all kinds of timezones. That's another hurdle that we need to get over. It's really just building that team and that collaborative environment that has allowed us to get that horizontal-ness into the silo mentality that we have, and we do have that as an organization for sure.”

[19:34] The One Thing:  Mike: “Just keep collecting the data. That’s what we did. Whether you’re collecting it with a spreadsheet, or you have a system, or you're trying to implement a system, you cannot fix the problems with half the data.”

[20:27] The One Thing: Rocky: “Admit that you have blind spots that need to be worked on. If you come at it from too big of a prideful stance, then you're going to continue to have the problems.” 


White Paper
for Leveraging Risk Management in Automotive

Download here

Operational Restart Readiness

Download here

The 24 Essential Supply Chain

Download here


Keep in touch with Auto Supply Chain Prophet's co-hosts Cathy Fisher,Terry Onica and Jan Griffiths LinkedIn.


QAD WesbiteQuistem website


Powered By