This is the latest in a series saluting women in the plumbing and HVAC trades, from manufacturing to turning wrenches in the field. As the trades face a shortage of skilled workers, it’s essential to attract, train and promote more women. If there is a woman you think is worthy of recognition, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Zhané Goff can read a dataset as well as anyone, but it’s her time on the factory floor that really gives her the insights she needs.
The operational excellence manager at RIDGID headquarters in Elyria, Ohio, says the experience and expertise of the workers at the heart of the manufacturing process are vital to finding ways to improve that process.
“Data is great, but it will only tell you so much,” she said. “It’s invaluable to talk to the people who work on the machines and who handle the materials every day to get their insights on what can be improved.”
Goff is part of a team at RIDGID studying ways to make manufacturing more efficient and less wasteful. RIDGID® is a global manufacturer of more than 300 dependable and innovative tools trusted by the professional trades in over 140 countries. Together, as part of a longstanding partnership, Viega and RIDGID design and manufacture the press tools and fittings that lead the industry.
Goff’s team will examine data from manufacturing at the Elyria plant, including the length of time processes take, material handling, workloads on various pieces of equipment etc. Some of the data is already available, but other factors are yet to be measured, Goff said.
And she will look beyond the numbers to get the advice of those most deeply involved in the exacting manufacturing process that produces the pressing tools.
“That’s my favorite part about working at RIDGID,” she said. “I love getting on the floor and talking to people, explaining what we’re there to do and why and learning from them.”
Prior to joining RIDGID in October, Goff was a project manager at Greenlee® which, like RIDGID, is part of Emerson’s Professional Tools group. The 24-year-old has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial and systems engineering, both from Northern Illinois University.
The first person in her family to graduate from college, she said she has always been interested in math. She was considering a career in actuarial science but knew she wouldn’t be happy in a job that dealt solely with numbers. A mentor recommended industrial science and Goff has found it to be the perfect mix of data and human interaction.
“Obviously, the goal is to help streamline our processes and find new efficiencies while making sure our products always exceed customers’ demands. However, I can also help the people working there. I really care about people,” she said.
A member of the Society of Women Engineers, she advocates STEM careers for women. As a black woman in a profession that is predominantly white and male, she said she’s encountered low expectations and skepticism about her career choice, but has never let it deter her.
“I’m here to do my job and I know I’ll do it well,” she said.