How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?
The plant leader’s role has undergone a transformation in the last decade. Earlier, the plant leader was expected to deliver more than demand, whereas now the role is to ensure highest levels of safety, consistent quality (less than 50 PPM) and continuous improvement with innovation in operations, cost, throughput etc. Further, the plant leader is expected to lead the employees, be involved in employee’s engagement and motivation programmes to enhance their productivity, improve quality and optimise cost.
How can the plant managers and their teams work towards achieving and sustaining excellence under the umbrella of a corporate and business unit strategy of continuous improvement? Can you give examples from your organisation?
“Less is More” concept is also applicable in corporate strategy. Plant managers have to focus on a few aspects and make significant changes; if they spread themselves too thin then it may affect productivity and quality. Their area of focus should include manpower productivity, asset productivity, built-in quality of processes and cost reduction or inventory levels. In my experience, we ensure worldclass quality as the key driver for the business. You must identify specific goals with a detailed roadmap of the deliverables for each individual/division. This must be followed by proper review and facilitation to ensure the right execution.
What kind of productivity improvement tools are being used in your manufacturing plant?
The key measure of asset productivity is OEE, a strong tool to improve efficiency. However, tools like VSM is also used to ensure the right level of throughput. For improving productivity, inventory turnover ratio is used. Large scale automation including inspection is a clear tool or method to assess and improve manpower productivity.
How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing? Can you suggest a framework or roadmap for a successful digitalisation journey?
Digitalisation is becoming critical in shopfloor management and Industry 4.0 will soon become the order of the day. However, every organisation needs to be prudent on investment in digitalisation. First level of assessment is necessary to understand key assets and areas where digitalisation will bring significant improvement. The best approach is to go step by step and implement changes only where required to understand the benefit. Once the conviction comes in and benefits are accrued, horizontal deployment can also follow.
Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?
The biggest challenge for plant leaders is to understand the changing scenario of plant management, regular benchmarking against best practices and continuously drive the team towards better and higher performance. We lose one opportunity everyday if we aren’t working towards improvement. The plant leaders have to continuously challenge the status quo and yet welcome change and facilitate implementation at a rapid pace so that the organisation sustains in the long run.