Clayton invests in research-based partnership to improve automation, robotics and team member experience
MARYVILLE, Tenn., June 11, 2020 – Clayton Home Building Group®, a leading builder of off-site and site-built homes, collaborated with the University of Tennessee’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering to help innovate the off-site home building process and improve Clayton’s team member experience through research-based learning. This dynamic partnership is part of Clayton’s broader commitment to make homes more attainable for home buyers across America by incorporating advanced automation and robotics into the off-site construction process that improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
“Our country is experiencing a widespread need for quality, affordable housing solutions,” said Rick Boyd, President of Clayton Manufacturing. “At the same time, we are continuously researching ways to reduce labor stress for our valued team members. Automating processes and integrating robotics in our current production not only lessens the physical burden, but also enhances safety and improves efficiency. By testing and incorporating the latest available technology into our construction processes, we hope deliver innovative and attainable solutions to more home buyers.”
In early 2018, UT engineering faculty and students began conducting research over multiple three-week periods at Clayton Rutledge in East Tennessee, one of the company’s 40 off-site home building facilities nationwide. By using wearable activity trackers and analyzing hours of video, the students were able to compare value-added to non-value-added tasks for each team member throughout their day and offer solutions to create better use of time and labor efforts.
“My experience with Clayton had a positive impact on two aspects of my life— problem-solving and relationship management,” said Abhay Bajpai, a Graduate Research Assistant at UT. “Through our research and collaboration, we were able to understand the production process, as well as provide solutions to problems and constraints they were experiencing. The relationships we built with the team members were crucial in our methods for an overall sustainable process improvement.”
According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, 57 percent of activities in construction are wasteful and non-value adding, while 62 percent of all activities add value in manufacturing. As a result of the partnership, changes to improve productivity and team member experience were implemented at several Clayton home building facilities across the nation, including the process of kitting. Kitting is the practice of bundling all materials for a specific space in the home and delivering them at the most accurate time during the building process. Not only does it improve efficiency, but it also encourages physical distancing between team members.
“Not only were we able to create an algorithm and methodology unique to Clayton and the manufacturing industry that’s never been done before, that research is now expanding,” explains Dr. Rupy Sawhney, Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor at UT. “Several of our staff and students have subsequently developed and published major reports and studies.”
Coupled with ongoing partnerships with educational institutions, such as the University of Tennessee, Clayton is helping evolve the future generation of America’s workforce.
As technology advances and new information becomes available, the Clayton Home Building Group remains focused on improving the future of housing and guiding the industry forward through efficiency, innovation and sustainability.
About Clayton Home Building Group
Founded in 1956, Clayton is committed to opening doors to a better life and building happyness® through homeownership. As a diverse builder committed to quality and durability, Clayton offers traditional site-built homes and off-site built housing – including modular homes, manufactured homes, CrossMod™ homes, tiny homes, college dormitories, military barracks and apartments. All Clayton Built® homes are proudly designed, engineered and assembled in America. In 2019, Clayton built 51,964 homes across the country. Clayton is a Berkshire Hathaway company. For more information, visit claytonhomes.com.