The answer lay in a visit to the Best Factory Awards inBirmingham where the very best of productivity improvement was highlighted. APIthen began a programme of improvement that encouraged management to devolveownership of the working areas, machines and operating processes to shop flooremployees, giving them greater control over their working activity. The key to the scheme’s success is the ongoing communicationto ensure that standards are being maintained. Management’s job has become morestraightforward as it is only asking employees to do work in a way that theythemselves have agreed to do. Conversely, because employees set their ownstandards, they understand why they get in trouble if those standards are notmet. The programme was introduced on a pilot basis, and wasimmediately well received by employees, who were being asked to make their owndecisions and set their own working targets for the first time. This was also abig change for managers who had to learn to let go of some of theirresponsibilities and decision-making and alter management techniquesaccordingly. At first there were the inevitable teething troubles as everyonewas trying to adapt to a new way of working. 5S is not an overnight cure forbad company culture – it takes a lot of time and energy. – Managers should focus on supporting and stimulatingemployees to work to improve the way in which they do their jobs. ContactsProductivity Europe (5S specialists) – Tel. 01234 851543Bill Eaton, Eaton Management Services – Tel. 0116-247 1887Best Factory Awards Contact Productivity Europe as above.TheLancaster Group – Tel: 0115-960 4664 Comments are closed. – Employees must be ready for change. Team building sessionsthat highlight where any problems might be can help to prepare employees forworking towards the right solution. Personnel Today’s monthly series reveals how managers dealwith business problems and enhance performance. In this issue, managers of APICoated Products explain how increasing responsibility on the shop floorimproved the working culture and improved performance by up to 50 per cent The 5S programme adopted by API encourages employees to settheir own standards of work – and stick to them. 5S stands for Sort, Set limitsand locations, Shine and sweep, Standards (which was crucial to API) andSustain. The programme, which is just as effective in an office as in a factory,requires every employee to firstly organise the working environment and thenset standards for every bit of the job they do. It doesn’t matter what thestandard is, just as long as it is identified and kept up. Taking ownership ofthe job that needs to be done means there is more motivation to do that jobwell, and invariably standards are raised. API implemented the 5S programme three years ago andproductivity is up an average of 10 per cent year- on-year. Employees aredictating their own standards of work, from the organisation of the shop floorto the operation of equipment. There is an ongoing process of setting astandard, adhering to it, checking it and acting to restandardise if it fallsbehind. It took about a year to get the whole system buttoned down, but now thefactory is maintaining the process and the culture issues are continuallyimproving. Top Tips: How to reorganise the job culture – It is crucial to get top managers committed to the scheme.Although the costs are minimal, they won’t reap the rewards immediately, sotheir patience and continued support is vital. Eight years ago API was a traditional top-down manufacturingcompany. Management was in fire-fighting mode, dealing with problems as theyarose, with no real control over the manufacturing processes that made up thebusiness. The culture on the shop floor at that time added to the problem.Meanwhile, in the factory employees didn’t have any ownership or control overwhat they were trying to do and it was purely the management’s job to try tokeep standards up and output at a maximum. Previous Article Next Article API is continually looking for ways to increase productivityby improving the working environment and culture for its workers. 5S hasprovided the company with a way to increase profits and give employees greatercontrol. Although it takes time to implement, the improvements are outstanding– and are built to last. Best practice: working cultureOn 5 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today API Coated Products is recognised as one of Europe’s leadingspeciality coaters of paper and film. It supplies materials for graphical,medical, automotive, packaging, food manufacture and retail markets. It employs120 people with a turnover of over £17m. In the light of demanding customerexpectations and global competition, API has developed a programme to make itsmanufacturing process world class. Positive outcomes for the business The training lasted three days, so it was quite an intenseperiod away from the factory. When back at work, the training had an immediateand significant impact on company culture. Employees came out of the coursesready to put into place all the skills they had learned. But it wasn’t enoughto have a sustained or long-term effect on productivity. Because the actualworking environment hadn’t changed, the problems came back. What was needed wasa way of changing company culture, and sustaining that change.How we implemented the change What you are effectively doing with 5S is highlighting thevariables within any job, and setting standards so that instead of the qualityfluctuating, it is always the same, and of a high standard. It means realcommitment for companies introducing the scheme, but at API it was really worththe effort. A factory or office worker might have dozens of variable tasks tofulfil in a day, each of which must be identified with a written standardexplaining how that task is to be properly undertaken in a repeatable manner. What needed addressing and why? Before API implemented the programme, operator variationcould drag performance down significantly. So it’s not just about makingemployees more satisfied with their work – it has had very significant economicbenefits too. Motivational issues within the factory were clearlyhampering productivity. At a teambuilding course (run by Eaton ManagementServices), employees were asked to identify the things they were unhappy ordissatisfied with. Across the board, the response was the same. Employees werefrustrated by the lack of involvement and communication bet-ween them andmanagement. Almost universally, the feeling was that they didn’t know what wasgoing on and lacked control over the tasks they were given. Related posts:No related photos.