How can plant leaders make a difference in achieving a common goal of the organisation?
Plant managers’ roles are cut-out and need to be more pragmatic in understanding the need of the hour and be flexible in adapting to innovations and ever-changing technologies. They have to lead their team from the front in realising the vision and goals set by the company and uphold the values. They have to detect gaps in the systems, identify bottlenecks that affect the productivity and resolve them with active participation of the staff involved.
How can 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?
Sustaining excellence in manufacturing is harder than reaching it. Complacence has no place in any industry and continuous improvement helps keep one in the competition. Better work environment, good amenities, cultural activities and outings for the workers go a long way in retaining good staff and reducing attrition. Being a manufacturer of life-saving medical devices, we train our staff to be more responsible and instill ownership qualities in them. We seek ideas from them, give them leadership roles and welcome their active participation in decision-making.
How is the workforce evolving with the rapidly changing technology era?
It is a challenge for the shopfloor staff to keep up with rapidly advancing technology. This warrants periodic change control trainings by the company to prepare workers to understand new technology and work on newer machines. To make things easier now, companies are employing people with better qualifications & skill and who can adapt quickly to the changes.
What kind of productivity improvement tools are being used in your manufacturing plant?
We use value mapping for identifying and monitoring projects for process improvement. We conduct periodic trainings to workers to bring them up-to-date with the latest technologies and innovations. Investments in latest 5-axis and integrated CNC machines, laser cutting and welding machines have helped us achieve precision in machining required in our industry. We have installed automated vertical storage & retrieval system for our raw materials and introduced automation in polishing & ultrasonic cleaning operations, which eliminates human contamination.
How big is the impact of digitalisation on manufacturing?
Digitalisation has become a necessity rather than a luxury in today’s scenario. In my opinion, digitalisation is a harbinger of better productivity, sustained quality, rapid turnaround and increased efficiency with cost reduction. Some people, with the perception that manufacturing is exclusively labour oriented manual work, fear that digital transformation may result in lesser employment opportunities and result in unemployment. These fears are unfound and in their own interest they should accept the benefits of digitalisation and introduce the same in their workplace in a phased manner.
Would you like to comment on any plant leadership challenges in today’s rapidly changing technology world and a competitive business environment?
Ever-changing technology, innovation in every field and oneup competition have made the job of a plant leader much more challenging and difficult. Since we manufacture our own patented medical devices, one of the areas of concern is the information security. Today’s technology, while enabling us to stay connected, may also expose us to the threat of data pilferage.