A couple of months ago, I received an email from SustainablePlant where this picture was attached. The message was simple: Join Sustainable Plant in all things silly and submit a caption in the comments section for this month’s Substainably Silly cartoon contest.
Although I didn’t submit a caption, this picture sure got me thinking of the silly things we do within our manufacturing plants while labeling these efforts as something complete opposite. I really enjoyed these two posted comments as captions:
• “What, you mean to tell me after all these years all we had to do was paint it “green”?”
• “When I said we needed to greenwash our business, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
Obviously, stakeholders, corporate leaders, and plant management do not want to see us “acting” but rather successfully executing. With that being said, I believe there are five key factors that affect a plants performance. While I believe these five key factors are the same for nearly all efforts we engage in, I have written this with the focus towards the energy management efforts.
Five key factors, what are they? Focus, planning, resources, processes and people greatly affect the performance of energy management. These factors are applicable not only to the energy management team members but also, in a narrower domain, to the front line managers in the plant. A frontline manager should be looked at as a ‘mini energy manager’ who deals with the same strategic and operational issues that the energy team attempts to improve.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these five important factors.
Focus. The energy management manager team needs to ensure that the overall manufacturing operation has a clear sense of direction and strategic focus. Frontline managers also need to ensure correct interpretation of the goals by the workforce. Once the workforce in the plant is clear about goals and focus, the energy manager and the frontline managers need to delegate responsibility and decision-making authority to the required people, making them accountable for results.
Planning. It is the energy manager’s responsibility to chalk out a strategy to achieve goals with maximum input from the people who will implement the plan. Effective strategic and operational planning on the management team is a must for optimal performance of the manufacturing operation. For frontline managers, the strategic plan should aid operational improvements and the operational plan should focus on activities like maximum efficiency while maintaining/improving production schedules, maintenance activities, training and the like.
Resources. The energy manager should be able to garner enough financial support for his/her operation, deploy appropriate technologies and take steps to put together an effective team. It is then extremely important that the energy management team work directly with frontline management to ensure that financial resources and technologies are properly used for operations and maintenance. Don’t forget to work with Human Resource to formulate and implement policies for an effective workforce. Resource management should not be overlooked when targeting optimal performance of a manufacturing operation.
Processes. Without appropriate processes, focus, planning, and resources are of no use. I can’t stress how vital it is for the energy management team to have an efficient operating system in place, which closely monitors the operations and triggers a corrective action if the performance of the operation falls below expected efficiency and/or production levels. The energy management team has to ensure that the operating systems serve their design purpose, promote teamwork and monitor workgroup performance, as well as initiate corrective action when performance is below desired levels.
People. An effective and motivated workforce can be a blessing to any energy management effort. The energy management team should share a good working relationship with the frontline management group. To have the desired working relationship sharing information, listening and coaching are important skills the energy management team needs to possess. They should be able to initiate change in the operations as well as prevent political infighting. The same applies for the entire management team. They also should share a good working relationship with their workgroup and be able to implement the change initiated by the energy management team.
Besides the energy management team and front line management, their superiors should also understand the implications of the five factors discussed above. Though, for a plant’s energy manager to succeed a lot depends on the personal skills of the manager, the support of the top management goes a long way to help the energy manager achieve organizational goals.
I hope this short entry has been informative and you will continue to follow my blog. As always, I appreciate any feedback (comments, thoughts, etc.) so feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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