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The MANTRA for enhanced productivity

Shine

The mentality of people in the country is to engage help for their cleaning needs. This does generate employment, but makes it difficult for people to take care of their own cleaning needs. “The feeling of pride in cleaning their own workspaces was inculcated in the employees. This started a revolution in terms of the way the shop floor looked,” said Dharmesh. Mechanised cleaning solutions and mobile machines were used to maintain the shop floor. Heavy machineries were cleaned annually and industry experts in Mumbai were consulted on how to enhance the cleanliness of the facility. Investments made in improving the cleanliness of the facility were far less in comparison to the benefits gained from the exercise. Clean shop floor allowed for early detection of any problems like spillage and leakage in the equipment.

Standardise

A standard in terms of the horizontal deployment of the programme led to the creation of standard operating procedures that reduced the variation in the production processes and also in the defect rates of the products.

Sustain

This is perhaps the most important of all the ‘5S’, as all the work done through ‘5S’ would be for naught, if it was not sustained. “The changes described in the ‘5S’ system takes time to implement and it is a continuous journey like the PDCS cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) in quality. If gaps are found in the implementation, then there is a need to go back to the start to enhance the process and then check and audit the progress all over again. This process has to be constantly repeated to improve the set benchmarks.”

It took the Alstom five years from 2008, when the ‘5S’ was put in place, to reach the point where the results were visible in the increased and enhanced productivity of the company. This was done in a systematic manner. “The first step in implementing the system was to divide the factory in zones. Each zone had designated leaders, who reported directly to the Director of Operations of the unit. These leaders were the owners of the zones and conducted monthly audits, based on a pattern validated by the unit management.”

Audits and checks were important for improvement in performances, but the question of maintaining the motivation of the people to sustain the programme was equally important. A system of recognition was enforced, whereby the Director of Operations along with the Head of Manufacturing, presided over a small function to recognise the efforts put by an area to win the award at the end of the month. Recognising the efforts of an individual or team boosted their morale and increased their motivation to work harder in implementing the system.

“The implementation of the ‘5S’ benefited into a sixth ‘S’, that is Safety.” ‘5S’ contributes to the safety of the company and makes the employees realise its importance. The impact of the ‘5S’ can be seen not just in the improved productivity of the facility, but in the influence it has on the workings of the employees. Sharing an example, Dharmesh mentioned “We organised a rangoli competition on the eve of Diwali, to engage the people by bringing out their passion through expression. Out of the 40 entries to the competition, around 10 entries had symbolised either ‘5S’ or safety as a theme.” This realisation of the sway ‘5S’ had on the employees and their concern for safety, validated the fact that good working conditions lead to good work place and lesser number of accidents. It is not the percentage of money or the efforts put in initially to implement the system, it is the results reaped in the long run that has to be taken into account.


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