« 100 YEARS – 100 LIVES » | GHANA “The training really equipped us with skills to help improve our productivity”

A printing company from Ghana managed to cut down both on paper waste and time waste after following an ILO training course.

Reportage | Ghana |
ACCRA - Buck Press Ltd is a printing and publishing company based in Achimota, near Ghana’s capital city. The company has been successful. However, there was a lack of efficient handling of waste and a deficit of organization.

« Workers would not always strictly follow the job description coming from the costumer, which led to a lot of paper waste because of mistakes that would lead to reprinting;” said Aaron Brown, the company’s spokesperson.

However, things started to change when it became involved is an ILO training. Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) is an ILO global programme that improves productivity and working conditions in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The training helped identify a couple of areas that could be improved. It was about reducing waste not just about paper usage but also in cutting down on time spent in searching for paper in the warehouse.

The whole staff quickly realized how they could improve their performance. Supervisors especially insisted that workers should not just rely on their many years of experience in printing but actually systematically refer to the detailed order received from the costumer.

From Japan to Ghana

Because it is sometimes difficult to get rid of bad habits, managers found a rather friendly and easy way to remain everyone to keep in mind the lessons learned after the training.

« I developed a mantra after the SCORE training,” explained Senior Marketing Officer Ebenezer Kwasi Asiedu,

« I started to greet supervisors by telling them « muri muri » and their reply would be “muda muda.” This way, they were constantly reminded to cut down on waste, » he added.

These words actually came from the LEAN concept created by a Japanese car-maker that developed its production system around eliminating three enemies: Muda (waste), Muri (overburden) and Mura(unevenness).

The mantra also worked at Buck Press with the level of waste quickly going down.

Waste of time

Another finding of the SCORE training was the need to cut down on time spent in searching for paper in the warehouse. The large warehouse was packed with 120,000 sheets of paper that were often wrongly labelled.

« It took two weeks to compile an inventory and clean the warehouse. Now items are properly labelled so it takes just a few minutes to find and pick the right paper for a job, » Ebenezer underlined.

After realizing the added value of this new clean and organized warehouse, the process was applied to offices.

Matilda Caesar is Assistant Supervisor at the bindery department. She recalls how her workspace looked like before SCORE. “It was an eyesore; cardboards here, papers there, little free space for movements.”

With that constant reminder from her colleagues from the training through the muri-muda mantra, everything is now at the right space. Even the paper waste now has separate bins from organic waste.

“We are now even more conscious of the other company that uses our paper waste as their raw material. We no longer dump paper and organic waste into one bin,” she added.

Sharing the benefits

In reducing waste at several levels, managers also realized areas of improvement also existed for printing machines. Here too, the muri-muda mantra reminded mechanics to schedule regular maintenance on the many offset printers in order to drastically eliminate machine downtime. According to them, the new schedule has also been effective in cutting down waste.

“The ILO training really equipped us with identifiable skills to help improve our productivity. We will keep it up but one thing we will do in addition is to help teach other businesses like ours about the benefits of SCORE”, concluded Francis Nyanin, the company’s General manager.

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