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Review Process

I arranged meetings with about 70 production supervisors and their managers, in groups of 10-12 people. In these sessions, I listened to them and recorded their requests and complaints. There were additional meetings with the main service department staff as well, including those in the stores and main canteen. The canteen staff had several requests, some of which ap-

  • 1 For this chapter and all subsequent chapters, see Chapter 2 for additional information about location.
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peared quite important for staff welfare. During factory rounds, I spoke to production and maintenance workers and union representatives. My own discipline engineers, supervisors, and contractors also provided their inputs. It appeared that many of the issues were related to stresses on the infrastructure. The company had seen rapid growth over the initial 15 years of its existence, but the infrastructure had not kept pace with the growth in production volume.

Analysis of the feedback highlighted some common problems. These included complaints about the utilities: provision of electricity, water, and air. Factory ventilation, dust levels in the ceramics department, and fume extraction in the plating department were also significant issues.

The main canteen provided food to more than 4000 people in the daytime, about 2500 in the second shift, and about 1500 people at night. Food was served in batches, as the seating was limited to 1500 people. Electrical heating was used for cooking, for which they needed a secure electricity supply.

These issues did not appear in the GM's list, which generally covered current projects, some staff issues, and a list of complaints from production managers.

I applied the first two project selection hurdles. Were these expectations related to production or welfare or safety, and were they feasible? This process narrowed the list down to about 10 items that could be handled as stand-alone projects. The next step was to evaluate them for importance. We had to find the money for items that affected health, safety, and environment (HSE) and staff welfare. Items that were critical to production were clearly important. We will not go into the details of how funds were obtained; that is a long story in itself. Suffice to say it needed lateral thinking and agile maneuvering.

The lead time for completing some of the items was two-three years. This allowed us to phase the work within a three-year budget window. The company had an annual budgeting system. This imposed additional challenges of phasing, accruals, and other familiar accounting handcuffs with which most engineers will be familiar.

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