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.”