Times seem difficult these days. We may be in recession but definitely business is getting tougher in most sectors. The turnovers are decreasing whilst the costs are increasing. I had a chat this week with my cousin who looks after gas distribution. Bottle gas is supposed to be a commodity that is most resilient to drop in consumption- the people need to use energy for cooking. It looks that even in this sector there is a lull in spite of the subsidies fed by the government to alleviate the burden of the population. On the other hand, operating the distribution is costing more with the escalating cost of Diesel and  with the mandatory increases to be allotted to the work force.

What are the possible solutions in this juncture?

Costs cutting will some say! Work smarter will others vouch! Indeed whilst increasing sales or turnover seems less likely, squeezing the costs is obvious. It is more easily said than actually implementing the cost squeezing strategies. Reducing the level of costs with the least pain and to work on the optimum means going through the costs elements, analysing them and determining the right level. I rather work on the elimination of waste. I recall during my past career that in some department when we were faced the need to increase our productivity, we utilised lean management techniques and Gemba Kaizen.

Lean Management I believe stems from Lean production systems. Lean production systems provide principles and practices to reduce costs through the relentlessly removal of wastes and the simplification of all processes. The introduction of Gemba Kaizen, particularly the 5 S I am pretty sure will provide some solutions. Sort, Straighten, Sweep, standardize and self discipline are the key words.

Let us all be reminded the vast campaign led a couple of years ago by the National Productivity Council NPCC: the Elimination of Muda.


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