July 1st, 2013

Training transforms results at PPG Industries, Auckland

“It may seem simple but it was symbolic of how people had embraced a new senseof ownership of the plant.”

After 63 staff from PPG Industries’ Auckland Manufacturing plant were awarded Level 2 certificates in Competitive Manufacturing late last year, the company is still measuring the benefits.

The Auckland plant provides paints and coatings for a wide range of markets including the furniture industry.

The training was funded and overseen by Greg Stuart, National Account Manager (Furniture), for Competenz in early 2012.

PPG’s Lean Manager, William Bratton designed and drove the lean manufacturing training. He said the management statistics emerging since the training began in 2012 indicates that $0.6 million in efficiency savings has resulted in a nine month period.

Pat Cannon, PPG’s General Manager of Industrial Coatings for Australia and New Zealand, said the significance of the certificate for many of the PPG production employees is that it represents their first formal qualifications.  

Mr Cannon said the company has encouraged all employees to consider further learning opportunities.

“If there’s some kind of seminar or training that you’d like to attend, please bring it to me. If it’s important to you then that’s good enough for me to give it consideration,” he told all staff when they received their certificates.

This year, a further 30 employees have been enrolled to complete a Level 5 (Diploma) Competitive Manufacturing programme. A further 15 employees will undertake the Level 3 (Technician) programme and as part of the lean strategy for the supply chain, two groups of PPG distributors will complete Level 2 qualifications.

PPG’s Auckland Production Manager, Andy Cardwell, said there was a lot of apprehension at first among staff.

“I think because it represented change and some of our people have served the company for over 25 years, some adjusting had to happen,” he said.

“But now everyone is fully engaged and I think it is because they have seen the benefits of their own decisions.”

“In a nutshell there has been a big swing in the way people think.

“All of our KPI’s are trending positively. Our cost per-litre of paint produced is now approaching the 50 percent mark in saving.”

Mr Cardwell said the transformation of the team culture was gradual and started with one department. The other departments saw the results and he started to receive requests about when their departments could get started.

“Just recently we noticed that when one department was quiet, one of the guys was painting the legs of storage benches. It may seem simple but it was symbolic of how people had embraced a new sense of ownership of the plant.

“Because they understand the challenges of the company and how it translates right down to their jobs, we are seeing people take up these challenges in their own individual ways,” he said.

Linked to PPG’s lean manufacturing culture is a bonus system for all employees. Regular productivity information is placed in the lunchroom to show how the plant is tracking.

Mr Cardwell said the effect of the training has been an education for everybody.

“I’ve learned a lot myself.

“I have a real sense of gratitude to all of the employees for the way they have taken a lead in their own improvement,” he said.