MARCH 2006
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Capacity building

Transforming manufacturing from good to great

In its search for world class manufacturing, Murray & Roberts is continually breaking ground in its training and development initiatives, particularly at the critical management level

One such example is its Manufacturing Management Development Programme (MMDP), a tailor-made programme that is unique not just to Murray & Roberts, but was a first for academic institution Gordon Institute of Business Studies (GIBS). The novelty of the programme is that it transfers international best practices to delegates who then use them to assess a designated Murray & Roberts plant operation and recommend improvements, said GIBS project leader Colin Rowley, speaking at the graduation.

The initial idea came from Brian Bruce and the concept was taken up by a steering committee led by Edwin Hewitt.

“The idea,” explains Ian Holmes, “was to extend the traditional management development programme to product manufacturing, combining the theory of world class manufacturing techniques with practical application.”

Murray & Roberts jointly developed the programme with GIBS. It consists of five modules, fairly standard fare, run over one year. The first two modules – lean management and people management – were held at Birchwood Conference Centre. The programme then relocated to Alucast in Port Elizabeth to look at a world class manufacturing facility for the next module – shop floor management. The final two modules – operations management and supply chain management – were delivered at GIBS’ Johannesburg facility to access its knowledge resources.

The final Action Learning Project, which made the programme so innovative, involved splitting the delegates into four syndicates to apply what they had learned directly to a Murray & Roberts business unit – in this case Roodepoort-based Rocla – and to make recommendations as to what they would change. “The value of the course is the insights gained immediately applied to the business.”

What made the programme rare is that business units are seldom prepared to open themselves to this extent of critical scrutiny.

Rocla was selected not because it was in need of assistance, but quite the opposite, explained Ian: “The idea was to take a business that was already performing very well and see if the delegates could extract value from what they had learned by implementing world class practices in a live situation.”

A key aspect of any management development programme is to bring together people from different backgrounds and specialisations, to facilitate the sharing of ideas. In this manner, as much is learned from each other as from the syllabus, and invaluable networking opportunities set the platform for the future swapping of workplace experiences.

On 26 July 2005 the four syndicates each presented their proposal to a panel of judges, which evaluated them and after extensive debate, selected Syndicate 3’s presentation as the winner. The standard of the presentations was viewed by the panel as acceptable and very good in some cases. The panel felt that all presentations provided significant food for thought.

The programme delegates were:

Syndicate 1: Francois Beukes, Wiseman Buzane, Peter Deacon and Darryl Jorgensen.

Syndicate 2: Garth Miller, Mandla Ndlozi, Jan-Louis Nel and Gert Marais.

Syndicate 3: Antony Funston, Deon Pretorius, Ian Watson and Renier Strydom.

Syndicate 4: Stefan du Toit, Andrew Gcaba, Werner Kruger and Andre Venter.

The programme is curently being upgraded and revised by the steering committee and will recommence later this year.