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A Good Blend: Part 2

World Cement,

Team building and development

For Ashley Bryan, Industrial Director at the Hope cement plant, the site’s team is the key to a successful plant. “Plant performance is about how your team think and operate – it’s about setting clear roles and objectives. It’s not about technical prowess, that is important, but it’s not everything […] We have a really proactive team onsite. Generally, if you get the basics right then everything else follows, including safety, environment and quality.”

In 2009, the Hope cement plant began to intensify its focus on team development. The team worked together to draw up a clear vision and set of goals for the plant, and an action plan to achieve these, including a change in organisational structure. A consultant was brought in to help the senior team adapt their management approach to a coaching style in order to bring out the best in all of the plant’s employees. The new vision was implemented in late 2010, after a year’s worth of preparation. The plant began to see positive results from as early as February 2011, in terms of both an increase in individual communication and initiative, as well is in plant performance. As Environment, Health and Safety Manager, Alison Shenton, states, the project increased staff confidence: “They have the confidence to say or do something, knowing that they will be supported […] This empowers people, allowing them the freedom to have ideas, think outside the box and actively to go and do something about it”.

Philip Bothamley in Hope cement plant’s control room. The plant has supported Philip in a sponsored cycle from Catterick, Yorkshire, to Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, in aid of the charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers.  

The plant currently has a reliability rate of around 98.9% and, as of July, achieved over 1000 hours meantime between failures. The consultant returned to the plant in July 2013 to help the plant improve further and develop the plan under the auspices of the new company and working environment.

Hope cement plant is keen to share this approach and best practice with other cement plants and is hoping to build relationships with other independent cement producers in order to do so.

Health and safety

The can-do ethos at the plant extends to issues of health and safety. When World Cement visited the site, kiln line 2 was undergoing a scheduled shutdown for annual maintenance work. During the shutdown, a 30-minute meeting was held every day, 15 minutes of which was dedicated to health and safety. At each meeting, an employee would carry out a Visible Felt Leadership (VFL) conversation onsite and report their findings at the meeting, detailing positive aspects as well as opportunities for improvement.

“We reward and celebrate good performance,” said Ashley. For example, the team created a purple ice-cream stand, referred to affectionately as the ‘Purple Tardis’ after Hope Construction Materials’ signature corporate colour. Each afternoon, local ice-cream maker Bradwells came to the plant to distribute ice-cream to the staff and contractors. It was also used to chill water, which was then distributed throughout the works to employees and contractors alike during the hot weather. The last scheduled shutdown took place in winter, so a soup van visited the site. The plant recently reached 500 days without a Lost Time Injury. There are plans to mark this milestone and thank the team for their work during the shutdown with a celebratory hog roast.

Part 2 of 2. You can read part 1 here.

Written by Louise Fordham

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