Peels and Meals

by Qimpro Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
2 2355 4.3/5

Once upon a time officers had separate canteen facilities to that of workers. Two decades ago the Earthmoving Equipment plant of a major auto unit in South India was no exception. A large workers’ canteen was operational, on a three shift basis, on the ground floor and a neat compact officers’ mess was designed for the floor above. The latter was also the regular venue for entertaining national and international visitors.

So what was the problem? The staircase leading to the officers’ mess was a challenge for the nasal system of the sophisticated visitors! Polite handkerchiefs partially came to the rescue. Why? The garbage containers were placed under the staircase and they chronically overfl owed! Quality was certainly not a way of life in the vicinity of the canteen.

The new President of the plant, who was a quality enthusiast, questioned the volume and cost of garbage. A key piece of information was that the local municipality refused to shift all the garbage, resulting in the daily rental of private dump trucks. These dump trucks cost the plant Rs 7,000 per day. Over and above this was the cost of wasted food. Collectively, we refer to this as Cost Of Poor Quality (COPQ).

A management team was appointed by the President to solve the problem.

In order to understand the situation the team set up two types of bins; one for avoidable waste (such as cooked food) and the other for unavoidable waste (such as peels and packaging). Avoidable waste accounted for two-thirds of the total canteen waste.

The team then embarked on a diagnostic journey, interviewing workers at meal time (remember, the plant worked three shifts). Here is a fl avour of responses to the question “Why do you waste food?”

“We are in South India and you serve us North Indian food.”

“The meal break is only 30 minutes, and the lines are too long. So I pile up food.”

“The ladles are too large. I could do with smaller servings.”

“The ‘thalis’ are much too large. So I pile up food.”

The remedial actions involved:
1. Inviting a team of wives, by rotation, to set the menu and supervise the same.
2. Scrapping the large ladles and ‘thalis’, and replacing them with smaller ones.
3. Investing the saved COPQ into worker welfare.

The workers canteen now doubles up as a recreation club with facilities for table tennis and carom. The walls are sparkling white and adorned with paintings done by the children of the workers. In fact they even published a calendar that showcased 12 of the best of these paintings.

Lessons Learned

  1. Chronic problems tend to become culture issues
  2. Challenge every norm
  3. See the problem with your own eyes
  4. Listen to the ‘Voice of Workers’
  5. Treat the workers with dignity
  6. Earn the trust of workers through leadership actions
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16 March 2016 by Abhishek Meshram
Excellent Read. Crisp yet deep meaning.
28 February 2018 by Kamini Godbole
Good one !!Urge to going till the root cause and willingness to make necessary changes followed by successful consistent implementation is the key to satisfactory results.