Students of MBA Class of 2008, with employees of Intimate Fashions at their factory in Guduvancheri (Photograph taken by Shalini Vijayagopalan, student, MBA(1st year))
Date : 27th March 2008
Venue : Intimate Fashions Factory
Today was our first field trip as part of our TQM course. We were headed for Intimate Fashions. Intimate Fashions India (P) Limited is a three way Joint Venture between MAS Holdings Srilanka, MAST USA &Triumph Germany. As the name suggests they are into lingerie and are the leading manufacturer for Victoria's Secret .They have a presence in about 12 countries.
Our session began with an intro to 5 S by the Head of their 5 S Publicity Team, Ms Latha Mahesh. This was followed by a conducted tour of their plant's units where we saw 5 S in practice.
SEIRI just means remove any unnecessary items from the workplace. This is practiced by means of a visual technique called Red Tagging which helps identify and remove these unwanted items. This red tag area is maintained by each department where they retain each of the demarcated items for a specific period. Then they are moved on to a central area from where the unwanted items are discarded. Here we are looking at minimizing the holding costs of the inventory and saving storage space.
A very important lesson in life too where we can save on a lot of time spent searching on account of having to search for them in a huge ocean of things which will never be required.
SEITON (Set in Order)
Keep the right thing in the right place and replace them in their respective place after usage. This helps in being systematic in the daily chores too. This was practiced by using visual indicators like a color code for each department, for the nature of frequency of use of the file and so on.
This reduces search time and provides for easy retrieval.
Keep the work place clean. At Intimate fashions they believe in cleaning with meaning. For e.g. If a spot if found to be dirty often they try to find the root cause of why the place is getting dirty often and the cause is attacked rather than just cleaning up the place regularly. Thus here the problem is being tackled rather than just dealing with the symptoms.
Once the 3 Ss are established they look into the standardizing of these across the organization. Proper checklists are maintained to ensure responsibility. They follow a top down as well as a bottom up approach here. They involve their operators in activities such as designing the logo. And the CEO himself sets apart a sizeable chunk of his time in auditing and setting an e.g. for the rest of the organization.
The employees’ participation is the success of their mission.
Here they look at implementing the benchmarks required to ensure the first 4 Ss.
Intimate Fashions sustains themselves by continuous guidance and training. They conduct regular 5S audits and display the results.
The Vision of 5S for Intimate Fashions is – To have the right things in the right place
Once implemented the 5S process increases the morale, creates positive impressions on customers, and increases efficiency in the organization. Not only does 5 S make the employees feel better about their organization, but there will also be a continuous improvement which can lead to less waste, better quality and faster lead times. The employee satisfaction can have quantitative measures too as was shown here by the result of query to the open ended question in the employee satisfaction questionnaire- What do you like the most in the organization? Despite the excellent transportation, food and other facilities provided to the employees the answer oft repeated was - 5 S, which was given by 97% of the employees. Thus we realized that 5 S creates an excellent work environment which makes the organization more profitable and competitive in the market place. And one of the most important takeaways was that rather than just being a tool/technique, 5 S was more of a working style or part of the company culture.
(MBA Batch of 2008)