Wednesday 19 December 2012
Safety stats, improved customer service, and efficiency savings that are simply out of this world.
Mail centre staff got to see first hand what can be achieved through applying World Class Manufacturing (WCM) techniques when they visited Krakow, Poland, this month.
We have been applying WCM improvement methods to the mail industry for some time. They are being introduced across our operations – with fantastic results.
Around 50 employees, who have driven improvements in areas like safety, productivity and quality, were at Fiat’s engine manufacturing plant in Bielsko Biala to witness what it takes to get gold status – the holy grail of WCM.
Mech operator Neil Lovett, main picture front centre, was impressed by what he saw and has been inspired to make further improvements at Norwich mail centre, where he is improving the organisation of the workplace.
‘It was awesome to see what can be achieved at such a huge plant with so many different operations,’ he says. ‘We’ve no excuses!’
More than 700 employees work across thousands of square feet at Bielsko Biala.
What strikes you when you first arrive is how clean the site is. And then, the layout. A complex set up involving precision engineering. And yet the operation is simply and efficiently laid out.
For Neil, reorganising the mail centre layout has had a major impact on slashing accidents. ‘Before WCM we had quite a lot [of accidents],’ says Neil.
Neil, who has worked for Royal Mail for 17 years, admits to being a little cynical about WCM to begin with. But he says: ‘It’s the biggest change I’ve seen. I feel like I’m contributing a lot more.’
Developing our people’s skills
Mark Higson, managing director of our Operations and Modernisation business, said: ‘It was great for our people to visit Bielsko Biala and see the reality of zero accidents and machine breakdowns leading to reduced costs and increased productivity – and all achieved through developing the skills of the people working at the site.’
The comprehensive programme for continuous improvement is structured into 10 areas, called pillars, covering all operational activity.
World Class Mail is now well established in our mail centres and is gradually being deployed in deliveries and other parts of the business.
Representatives from eight mail centres, including Leeds, pictured inset above, received bronze awards at a special ceremony in Krakow to celebrate what they have achieved over the past few years. Among them was some of our North West Midlands team, which has just claimed bronze, see your regular employee World Class Mail insert.
Karthik Kannan, production controller from our Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre, pictured left, was also there. Not only has he used WCM techniques to develop a device that’s revolutionised the way machines are maintained to minimise breakdowns; he’s compiled a whole book of know-how. Check it out in our insert inside employee copies.
Enthusiasm and motivation
Talking to the people at the event, their enthusiasm and motivation were palpable. They feel a real sense of ownership for their safety and their colleagues’ wellbeing. They’ve also developed a competitive edge. They want to drive up safety, productivity, quality and customer service – and they want to show other mail centres what they can do.
Quality pillar lead at North West Midlands mail centre, shift manager Bal Harar, pictured far left, has chalked up 20 years experience. What’s struck him is the pace of change and the level of employee engagement. ‘Everyone wants to eradicate defects,’ he says. ‘Nothing better than zero will do.’
Postwoman Saroj Vadukul, far left, works on the People Development pillar at Greenford mail centre. She has been involved with WCM since the start. She’s seen it as a good career move. ‘I get to work with so many people and enjoy the training,’ she says. ‘It’s great to help so many people develop across the different pillars.’
A key part of WCM is identifying where improvements can be made and then illustrating them in a way that can be easily understood and adopted.
Artist extraordinaire at Bristol mail centre is postman Andy Western (presumably, the sharpest pencil drawer in town!).
‘I can draw Yorkies [trolleys] in my sleep,’ he jokes. ‘WCM has led to a real cultural change. It’s been hugely positive.’
‘It’s pulled people together,’ adds postwoman Arzu Keskin, involved in the Workplace Organisation pillar.
‘Inspirational’ is how Usman Gill, work area manager at Bristol, describes WCM. ‘You wouldn’t believe what we have achieved in the past three years,’ he says. ‘You can visibly see the difference. There is a real team ethic.’
There’s no resting on their laurels. They know they can make more improvements. And now they’ve seen what can be achieved, they’re determined to deliver silver before going for gold.
Our WCM roll of honour…
Bronze awards this year have gone to:
- Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre
- North WestMidlands
Already on the roll of honour: