Cleanliness and safety is of prime importance in any facility. Alstom India, a leading power producer, has implemented the ‘5S’ in the maintenance of its facility. Dharmesh Save, Head of Manufacturing, Alstom Vadodara, in an exclusive interview elaborated on the success of ‘5S’, its implementation, long term benefits and influence on the employees & productivity
The Japanese Philosophy of ‘Kaizen’ stands for ‘continuous improvement’ of quality and productivity by reducing and eliminating waste. This forms an integral part in enhancing the productivity at Alstom too. “At Alstom we practice the principles of ‘5S’ religiously and rigorously. The principles of 5S have been completely implemented and deeply ingrained in every individual at our organisation. And we are seeing the results now after five years,” said Dharmesh Save.
“The implementation of the 5S programme meant embarking on a journey to continuously and tirelessly improve the organisation. The 5S is one of the five important pillars on which the productivity of the organisation hinges on. The others being safety, quality, efficiency and DPM (uptime of the machines to the optimal levels).”
The first ‘S’ in the ‘5S’ is ‘Sorting’. It is about reducing unwanted materials and objects that have no bearing in the running of the facility. Alstom implemented this system by celebrating a Red Tag Day. Underlining the importance of the system Dharmesh said, “The management had decided to put this as a key element to be embedded in our production system.” On the Red Tag Day, red tags were distributed to all employees, who were then given two hours to set the tags on obsolete items at their workspace. This gave each of them an opportunity to think how cluttered their work place had become. This system was beneficial in identifying underutilised space. “Even if, 20% to 30% of space is freed, it could be used to improve either the storage area or increase the production area of the facility.”
The second ‘S’ is about Systematise, leading to efficient functioning of an organisation. This system makes it necessary that every object finds its place. Simplifying the system Dharmesh shared a slogan they used for increased participation, ‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’ He acknowledged, “This was the most difficult of all tasks. Our factory has 46,000sqm of covered space out of the total land area of 125,000sqm. To systematise such a big area was an uphill task, but we persevered.” The employees were coached, trained and mentored to reach a standard platform for the acceptance of the system and results were visible within a year.
A lot of activities were undertaken like labelling, indexing and filing at the office & administrative blocks besides the factory. Layouts of machines, mobile equipment in the factory along with computers and telephone handsets in offices were made. People were encouraged to keep the equipment in its designated place after use. The benefit of systematising everything in the factory was that it allowed keeping an inventory of all the tools, machines and equipment. Alstom uses heavy machines worth several crores of rupees and valuable tools in its facility at Vadodara. “Searching for a particular tool or machine in such a large facility was difficult, often forcing a repurchase of the same. Systematising of consumables enabled to have knowledge of which machine is where at any given point of time, thus reducing the instances of duplication of purchases and improving the bottom line of the organisation.”