6 minute read 19 Jul 2021
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How P&G’s plant ran without managers on the shop floor

By EY Americas

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

6 minute read 19 Jul 2021
Related topics Alliances Supply chain

Manufacturing resilience in action: Discover how, amid COVID-19, a P&G plant ran with no floor managers and only 20% of technicians.

In brief
  • Owing to strict lockdowns in certain states in India and subsequent travel restrictions, P&G’s Baddi plant faced a massive and unexpected shortage of workers.
  • With IWS, despite the absence of floor managers, the plant was able to deal with operational challenges and run without major hindrances.

As we have explored in our Four ways to use digital solutions to strengthen manufacturing resilience series — operational resilience — the ability to quickly and effectively bounce back in the face of disruption and adversity — is a hallmark of every successful company. And no manufacturer epitomizes resilience more than the global consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G). (Editor’s note: EY has an Alliance relationship with P&G.)

How IWS helps build greater manufacturing resilience

In the past several decades, P&G has built a culture of operational excellence that has enabled the company to sustain world-class manufacturing performance. The foundation of operational excellence at P&G is the company’s Integrated Work System (IWS). (IWS is a key part of the EY Smart Factory solution and is built on Microsoft Azure. EY has an Alliance relationship with Microsoft.) IWS is based on the philosophy of striving for zero loss and 100% employee ownership. It’s used in all P&G plants around the world to drive continuous improvements in throughput, quality, productivity and cost reduction

One of the defining elements of IWS is the emphasis on continually evolving and improving standards to generate operational consistency. These standards are unique in two ways. The first is that they’re positioned as not the definitive, unquestioned way of working, but rather, the current best approach. All workers are encouraged to always look for better ways to do things and improve on the standards in place — which means that the standards continually benefit from P&G’s best practices and thinking. The second is that standards are put in place where problems have been solved, to draw a direct line between the use of those standards and beneficial impacts to the company. Such a clear connection illustrates the importance of standards and builds a cultural desire for people to follow them, which results in consistently high levels of performance across all of the company’s plants. 

An Integrated Work System (IWS) can be a foundation of operational excellence. It’s based on the philosophy of striving for zero loss and 100% employee ownership.

IWS and the culture it fosters are critical to P&G’s ability to weather — and even thrive — during disruptions that could sink less-capable organizations. The company saw this firsthand when the COVID-19 crisis hit, which resulted not only in massive shifts in demand, but also health and safety concerns for P&G employees — especially the shop floor workers whose jobs couldn’t be done remotely. Every P&G plant around the world suddenly had to determine how to keep their lines running to continue meeting consumers’ demands, while implementing a wide range of health protocols and staffing adjustments to prevent or inhibit the virus’s spread. With workers steeped in the principles and culture of IWS, facilities were mobilized quickly to address the disruptions and associated challenges.

Here is the experience of a P&G plant and how the collaborative efforts of plant leaders and line workers, combined with the foundation provided by IWS and its standards, enabled them to rapidly and creatively adapt to the current landscape without missing a beat.

Baddi, India:  strict lockdown and no managers

The city of Baddi, in northern India, faced a situation familiar to many cities around the world, with the pandemic bringing Baddi and nearly the entire country to a standstill. A town of about 30,000 and more than 2,000 manufacturing facilities, Baddi is home to a P&G plant that makes fabric care, dry laundry and haircare products. According to the plant’s manager, Seema Menon, the state in which Baddi is located implemented strict lockdown regulations. This presented a unique challenge as 60% to 80% of the people who worked in the plant were from neighboring states, where restrictions weren’t as severe. This meant that these workers were prohibited from traveling to the plant. 

When the lockdown hit, the entire P&G plant was shut down for about 10 days, after which Menon was given the green light to reopen. The plant was rebooted in phases, with two technicians starting up a handful of lines. And with none of the plant’s field managers able to get to the plant, Menon ran the entire operation, from her home, with no managers on the floor. For many manufacturers, this would have been impractical. But with IWS, P&G’s people are uniquely empowered and trained to excel in just such a situation.

“We have self-sufficient teams, which means the technicians can, of course, operate their lines, but also independently manage any technical expertise problems,” says Menon. “They are able to also do most of the offline work, like maintenance or quality-related jobs, and are trained and qualified to operate at least two technologies, and some can operate three. All of this is why the teams can still operate the plant with no managers on site.”

We have self-sufficient teams, which means the technicians can, of course, operate their lines, but also independently manage any technical expertise problems.
Seema Menon
P&G Baddi Plant Manager

Benefits of the 50/90 structure

Another capability that prepared the Baddi plant to deal with COVID-19’s impact is what P&G calls the “50/90 structure.” It’s a structure and associated plan that can enable a plant with only 50% of its typical manpower to still generate 90% of the traditional throughput. This included such moves as increasing overtime, extending the length of shifts or restructuring certain teams. Having this structure and plan already mapped out in advance made it easier for the plant to rapidly switch to operating with a skeleton crew to manage the immediate crisis in the short term while maintaining acceptable production levels.

Advantages of the digital twin

Digitization also played a key role in keeping Baddi running. Particularly powerful has been the digital twin created for all the plant’s lines. Equipment sensors feed performance data to a central platform, which allows plant workers to remotely monitor how each piece of equipment is running, spot issues that could affect product quality and troubleshoot causes of performance issues. According to Menon, as the plant continues its evolution to touchless operations, the digital twin’s functionality will be extended to include the ability for workers to remotely access and change the center line for any piece of equipment in the plant.

Neal Meldrum, Business Strategy Manager at Microsoft, sees digital twins as part of the next big wave in using technology to help power the transformation of workforces. “Digital twins — as well as low-code and no-code platforms like Power Platform, PowerBI and Power Apps, which are core elements of the EY Smart Factory –  are great examples of how digital technologies are helping workers to become more productive and to leverage real-time data insights to make better decisions,” he said. “At Microsoft, we’re getting a first-hand look at the ways technologies are reshaping how work is done.” 

Baddi – a success story 

Like all other P&G plants, Baddi also has had to juggle operational challenges with the implementation of very detailed and complex health and safety protocols. And comprehensive business continuity plans are ready in case of a COVID-19 infection at the facility — plans that, fortunately, have remain unused, as no COVID-19 cases have arisen in the plant to date. Baddi delivered impressive results even with a sliver of technicians available to run the lines and no managers present. Production has remained at the same level as it was before the lockdown, and no safety or quality incidents have been encountered. 

“From an operational excellence perspective, by the middle of the year we were doing better than earlier in 2020, producing better-quality products, with no manager or expert on the floor,” says Menon. “I think it's because people were more aware that they needed to be more careful and they have a real passion to make sure that things go well.”

Keep an eye out for the final article in this series which will look at how a P&G plant in Iowa City found an innovative solution to their laptop scarcity predicament, amid COVID-19.

You can also read the previous article within the series which looked at how a P&G plant in Albany handled unexpected demand spikes and employee shortage. 


Procter & Gamble (P&G) has always been building a culture of operational excellence, which has helped the multinational firm sustain world-class manufacturing performance. The basis of operational superiority at P&G is the company’s Integrated Work System (IWS). During the COVID-19 pandemic, P&G’s plant in Baddi faced severe worker shortage owing to lockdowns and travel restrictions. They were forced to run the plant with 20% of technicians. However, with IWS capabilities, P&G’s people were uniquely empowered to deal with such situations and, therefore, were able to run the plant effectively.

About this article

By EY Americas

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

Related topics Alliances Supply chain