27 November 2013 By Billy Hawkins
Kenny and Dan from the factory team at Alitex recently visited the H and H nursery in New Milton, Hampshire familiar to anyone who has ever bought a poinsettia from a UK supermarket/ retail store! With over five million plants and one and a half million poinsettias the 150 strong workforce are kept busy and order is imperative.
The point of the visit was to take advantage of a course run by Onsite Insight which looks at working methods within a manufacturing environment (amongst others). Joining our team members were four employees from a paper mill and one from the Ministry of Defence all looking for methods of “lifting”, the work environment.
From an Alitex point of view we are keen to create a workplace which reflects the product we are selling. We continually have an “open door”, policy and encourage our customers and suppliers to come and look behind the scenes – where the factory tends to take pride of place and steal the show. We are proud of what we manufacture and continually look to new working practises which can be readily absorbed into the Alitex culture.
We have been making good in roads to this style of production over the years, with continual investment in our working environments – even the yellow footpath through the factory has created a direction which adds to our improved “flow”, not to mention safety.
It is interesting seeing how the factory here has already been incorporating certain procedures – it reiterates what the team is getting right and builds upon learning.
The 5 S’s is a case in point. The system has been employed here for years and will be familiar to anyone in the manufacturing industries:
SORT (the clutter)
SET (create a place for everything)
SHINE (obvious – cleanliness!)
STANDARDISE (creating routines for best practise)
SUSTAIN (the real challenge – keeping it going)
What our team reflected on was that in order to create the routine and to sustain the practise they needed to build time into their day to establish procedure. From acorns great oak trees grow etc etc...!
Kenny and Dan also thought the suggestion box was a good idea which allowed employees to (anonymously if necessary)make suggestions which could be acted upon or at least addressed. It gave the team a voice. Another aspect of the learning which already happens at Alitex is the separation within the business of certain areas – right down to the paint shop in the factory. It provides an area of responsibility, accountability and successful team members are then isolated and rewarded. Kenny and Dan also noted that a sense of achievement in being successful is a great moral booster.
Lean manufacturing is what it is all about and the team here continually aim to reach enviable standards, which reflect our product and are a source of pride.