This career episode
pertains to my work as a World-Class Manufacturing Intern at the Unilever
Lipton Jebel Ali Factory in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This factory is
the site of a large tea manufacturing concern. The site of the plant is
strategic since it is near the Jebel Ali port, and is situated midway between
tea-growing areas of the world and the tea-consuming areas of the globe. The
plant’s current capacity is around six billion teabags annually, ranking it at
the second largest tea plant in the world, and a significant portion of this
output is actually exported to other parts of the world including Australia and
Russia. I worked with this firm from January to June of 2016. As a World-Class Manufacturing Intern, I was
tasked to head several projects in the factory. Also, I provided assistance to
other projects as well.
a World-Class Manufacturing Intern, I headed three major projects in the plant,
all of which were geared towards the improvement of processes and procedures in
the plant in line with the objective of the Focused Improvements (FI) pillar.
Aside from focusing on creating improvements in the processes and procedures,
another general objective of the projects was to generate vital information for
a database for the organization. One of the main advantages resulting of
successful FI pillar projects is growing the capability of the organization to
begin creating standards or benchmarks in the processes, the machines or in the
product specifications themselves.
The collection of data is
also important because beyond the activity of benchmarking and setting
standards, trends and patterns in production and quality can be determined as
well. This is why the projects embarked on while with this organization were
very critical to the optimum operation of the plant both in the short and long
In manufacturing concerns,
it is very essential that quality comes before everything else. This becomes
even more important as the Lipton Jebel Ali Factory exports its products to
various parts of the world. Any serious declines in quality would surely mean
the return of the exports or their being dumped at destination. This would
ultimately mean huge losses for the plant.
a World-Class Manufacturing Intern, my chief role was to understand all the functions
across the segment of the supply chain present or operating in the plant. The
three major projects that I headed during this term were:
Resolving Minor Stops in the Teepack Perfecta
Reduction in Minor Stops in the
Teepack Constanta Line 11;
Waste Reduction in Ishida Line 9.
The other projects where I
provided assistance are:
Quality Incidents Reduction in
Perfecta Line 4B; and
Reduction of Non Value Added Activity
in Line 4.
Among my main duties and
responsibilities as a manufacturing intern were:
To assist the shop and floor managers
To participate in the projects duly
To gather and sort the specific data
To interpret the data in the manufacturing
process to better understand how problems occur and to provide solutions for
To train and increase know-how in the
To train in other specific areas of
study as directed by the Immediate Supervisor.
organizational chart showing my position in the company is shown below:
first project I headed was on the reduction of minor stops in the Teepak Perfecta Line 4B. Minor stops are defined as
any unplanned stop which lasts less than 10 minutes, with breakdowns being any
unplanned stop lasting over 10 minutes. Taking a few moments to analyze the
stop in Lean Manufacturing is encouraged, as this allows the manufacturing
personnel to take a close look at the products being assembled as well as at
the machinery being utilized and the people working on the line. While this may
increase the downtime initially, after a while, it is always expected that
there will be less and less stops as incidents of below-par quality decrease in
number. Stopping the line is thought to make the workers more introspective of
quality problems and motivates them to find solutions to the same
immediately. When quality problems are
noted, comparisons to benchmarks and engineering solutions are provided. For
instance, if a product such as a teabag is less than perfect, then solutions to
the positioning of product lines and other equipment are applied. A knowledge
of line management techniques as well as lean production techniques are used in
order to determine the problem and design appropriate solutions.
1 hour every day, whenever problems were identified, we would immediately
gather around the specific area or location where the problem was identified so
that we could observe the environment in which the issue occurred. Then we
would all move to the small conference room where I would raise the issues
observed during the hour and wherein the workers would offer solutions for
these. My team was always ready to look at the issues and create solutions in
the spirit of collaboration and cooperation.
second project involved the reduction of minor stops in the Teepack Constanta
Line 11 in the plant. The reduction of minor stops means that improvements in
the production process have been made such that stops were reduced to a fifth.
One tool that was used to help reduce the number of minor stops is the 5S tool.
The 5S tools are sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain. Through
the 5S tool, operations are able to run smoothly and the conditions for the
creation of waste are eliminated. On the shop floor, once a stop is registered,
the conditions for its occurrence are examined. Then suggestions for removing
those conditions are named. Several machine related stops were being dealt with
using temporary solutions due to the difficulty of access to the right tools
which was corrected after implementing the 5S tool.
One main challenge that was encountered
during this project was the lack of standards and the reliance on the skills of
the equipment operators rather than measuring the adherence to defined
standards. It was thus a challenge for us to clearly define the standards that
would be followed throughout the line and to create a culture wherein standards
would be primordial and given priority.
for the waste reduction in the Ishida line, this again was a project that was
quality-based. Research was made on how the raw material inputs could be optimized
such that there was actually zero waste output for this line. This was a tricky
project due to the fine nature of tea dust which required the use of
unavailable tools for analysis. A cost-benefit analysis concluded that the best
solution was to subcontract the analysis rather than invest in tools. The
project was a resounding success and generated significant savings.
the next project which is the reduction of quality incidents in the Teepack
Perfecta Line 4B, the tasks here were more of concerned with raising and
improving the quality of the final product. The main quality incidents
consisted of crushed tea bags, punctured tea bags, tea bags without the thread
and tag, among others. I joined a team of interns and shop floor workers that
met regularly in order to discuss how these quality incidents could be reduced.
All inputs were made welcome, with all the employees being made to feel
comfortable and to know that their recommendations are always taken to heart.
They thus became at ease and offered many recommendations and suggestions, most
of which were significant and could indeed lead to the reduction of wastage in
the production line. Advanced tools such as the high speed camera which could
capture up to 230,000 FPS were crucial to the analysis due to the speed at
which the Perfectas would run during production. We had quite a few successes
in this project during my time and it continued past my post at Lipton.
the project on the reduction of the non-value added activity, this activity is
part of the principles in Lean Manufacturing. This approach helps identify and
get rid of wastes (or non-value added activities) by a process of continuous
improvement in order to allow the flow of product up to the customer’s end,
with the product being perfect.
Value-added activities are emphasized, and there is a people-oriented
approach in tackling these activities in order to achieve improvements. There
are eight major groups of wastes, namely, overproduction, inventory, defects,
processing, transportation, waiting, motion and people. For Line 4, the team brainstormed and
examined all the possible sources of wastes, identified these and verified the
data, and came up with solutions that would get rid of these non-value added
team likewise focused on enhancing the activities that added value to the end
product. I was responsible specifically for a logistical issue which was
resolved by redesigning the tag reel holder such that there would not only be
almost no waste, but also a health hazard for the line workers would also be
all the projects that I undertook while being at this facility, I have learned
to work in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration with a diverse group. I
also enjoyed working with individuals from several countries and various
cultural backgrounds. The experience here at Lipton Jebel Ali has been very
rewarding also in terms of experience and learning. Beyond the technical
knowledge and skills that I learned here, I also learned how to work with a
diverse group of individuals. I learned that working together produces so many
synergies that allow the group to discover so many solutions to issues. In this
case, it led to a more productive line in the company with almost zero
non-value added activities.
working stint at the Lipton Jebel Ali Factory was indeed a fruitful one. I
learned to work with a diverse group of people who were selfless and who wished
to contribute to the overall success of the plant. The projects I led and
participated in were successful in that the objectives for which they were
created were achieved. I am quite proud of having belonged to this team, and I
learned to be selfless when it came to contributing to the solutions for the
issues identified in the various product lines. To this day, I still maintain
both personal and professional relationships with the people I worked with in