Our impact, Their voices

More involved employees leads to improved productivity and a cleaner production process

Taking inspiration from SCORE Training, Avon Seals Private Limited has been enhancing its competitiveness through employee participation, waste reduction and productivity improvements.

Article | 17 September 2019
Avon Seals Private Limited is an Indian manufacturer of mechanical seals for agricultural, domestic and automotive water pumps. Mostly supplying its products to the domestic market in India, the Enterprise also exports one-third of its production to Sri Lanka, Japan, the United States and Europe. Before SCORE Training, the enterprise had waste, workplace cooperation and OSH issues. The ILO’s programme gave rise to an opportunity to implement important changes... 

Name  Avon Seals Private Limited
Location  Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Established  1993
Size  215
Products  Mechanical seals for agricultural, automotive and domestic pumps
Markets Mostly local, for clients including Texmo, Suguna Pumps, Best pumps and Compton; 35 % of products exported to Sri Lanka, Japan, United States and Europe
SCORE Training modules completed All 5 modules completed: Workplace Cooperation The Foundation for Business Success; Quality Managing Continuous Improvement; Productivity Through Cleaner Production; Workplace Management for Cooperation and Business Success; Safety and Health at Work A platform for productivity

It is a big challenge to ask your employees to do something that they are not mentally prepared to do. Right from the first module of SCORE Training, we could see attitudinal changes in the employees. There were changes not just in the quality of their productivity, but in the way they took care of themselves and their workspace."

A. N. Gireeshan, Managing Director, Avon Seals
Raising employees awareness of the benefit of business productivity
As a result of the Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) Training, Avon Seals employees acknowledge that what was once considered "work" is now regarded as a contribution to the organisation for the benefit of everyone. The Managing Director of Avon Seals, A.N. Gireeshan comments: “The ILO intervention has helped us become more profitable, so we could be more liberal in paying employees. Since SCORE Training helps the company improve its health, it has been beneficial for everyone concerned”. Indeed, at the end of the five modules, an increase in wages was observed. The improved results, including cost savings, meant that the enterprise was able to grow by increasing its total workforce – 26 employees were hired during the training and 39 more since the end of the last module . Avon Seals management also noted that employees now understand the real value of their work - why they do what they do, and how it affects the growth of the business directly or indirectly. The increasing interest in work has led to improvements in production processes that benefit both workers and the enterprise.

Attitudinal change comes from talking to the employees, involving them in organisational change, and telling them how it would affect them. When they acquire new skills like problem-solving, strategic thinking, productivity and energy management, decision making and communication, they feel confident about themselves and as part of the organisation’s growth."

Raghavan Kadambi, SCORE trainer
How changes are perceived by employees
The changes are well received by the employees, K.S. Banu confirms, “In the last five years, there has been great improvement in how we organise ourselves. We spend less time and energy looking for the things we need. Which means there is also less conflict.” The 60-year-old woman, who has been working with Avon Seals for over 24 years, assures that employees are now trained in HR skills, interpersonal communication and teamwork. She also underlines the OSH procedures that have been implemented following SCORE Training: “Before, we were shy and didn’t regularly wear our personal protection equipment (PPE) like safety boots, face masks and goggles when necessary. Now we do so because we have come to understand their importance for our safety”. Encouraging improvements have been made that benefit both workplace safety and the working atmosphere.

Not only do employees highlight that the lessons learned from the all five modules have positively changed their daily work, but also they are delighted to be more valued in their work and to see the essentials of workplace cooperation being implemented. Trust, communication and respect have helped the working environment shift from confrontation to cooperation.

More Workplace Cooperation for better quality
In the same year the five SCORE modules were completed, Avon Seals received a quality award from the Kirloskar Group in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. In 2016-2017, the enterprise received another quality recognition award from Honda, Delhi. These recognitions were the result of a whole set of improvements to the workspace, many of which were made through the initiatives of the employees themselves. Drawing from the Kaizen methodology to make continuous improvements to the workplace, many employees have taken initiatives to make their work processes and those of their colleagues, easier, more efficient and healthier.

Other methods and tools have been implemented, mainly from the module on Workplace Cooperation. Indeed, the enterprise started the application of 5S and created daily workers-managers meetings. Four years after the completion of the SCORE Training, the Enterprise continues to positive effects on Workplace Cooperation. Furthermore, Enterprise Improvement Team (EIT) meetings, with excellent participation of women, are held regularly. Mihir Gireeshan, customer relations and product development manager, says: “We have noticed that people are more cooperative towards change and willing to try new things. When the ILO, as a third party organisation stepped in to address concerns of the employees, it helped bridge the gap between the management and the workforce”. For a company that was grappling with a high attrition rate, it was a turnaround to see employees take ownership of their work and the organisation. 

"Staff take more responsibility and supervise themselves. Management intervention has gone down significantly. "

Raghavan Kadambi, SCORE trainer explaining employee empowerment at Avon Seals through meetings to voice their concerns
How investments can make an enterprise cleaner and more productive
As with half of the enterprises trained by SCORE in India, the programme has had an impact on cleaner production. The overall training has not only led to increased productivity but also reduced water wastage. By the end of the module Productivity Through Cleaner Production, Avon Seals had reduced its energy consumption, waste and decreased material usage.

Components such as ceramic and stainless steel, used in the manufacture of seals, have no impact on the environment. Unlike rubber, one of the major components, which is a pollutant. Before SCORE Training, rubber pellets used in the manufacture of the seals were hand-cut, causing variations in each piece and thus, leading to defect wastage. After SCORE Training, Avon was committed to the efficient use of rubber, and the company procured a guillotine machine, which increased the yield from 78% to 88%, and reduced rubber waste from 22% to 12%. In addition, the company invested in a preforming machine, which further improved the yield from 88% to 95%, bringing down rubber waste to 5%. This waste, is now sold to reclaimed rubber manufacturers. Today, no rubber waste from the company ends up in a landfill.

Efforts to improve waste management have also had positive impacts on employees. For example, the introduction of dust collectors has reduced rubber emissions which are environmental pollutants and even hazardous to employee health. Further, adds Mihir: “The investment in the preform machine has also reduced human effort and error. Earlier, four people would cut rubber blanks all day, to produce pellets that vary in size. Now, the same work is done by one person who operates the machine for half a day. 20 Kg of rubber is cut in ten minutes and the pellets are all of equal size.”

As an expanding company, Avon Seals was aware of the importance of reducing waste, improving productivity and implementing better health and safety measures to ensure continuity and to maintain zero accidents. According to the enterprise, SCORE Training helped to improve all these aspects and learning still contributes to the growth and productivity of the company.