Cottonsoft Ltd (Cottonsoft) was originally set up in 1986 as PlyPak Industries but went into receivership in1988. It was then purchased by a group of Dunedin entrepreneurs, and now employs 67 staff. Cottonsoft is a tissue converting company which manufactures and markets a range of paper based products. The company has now rebuilt itself and launched a number of very successful brands. Whilst the implementation of planned strategies for productivity gains are a recent endeavour for Cottonsoft, there is no doubt that these strategies will provide the opportunity for driving productivity up and costs down, securing the success of the company into the future.
Cottonsoft traditionally had a well developed understanding of sourcing/managing the supply of raw materials and of marketing products to customers and households across New Zealand. However, strengths in these areas were to a degree offset by production weaknesses and inefficiencies. The major problem faced by Cottonsoft was the difficulties in getting new plant and equipment to perform as expected, as initially investment in automation was seen as a 'golden bullet' to improve productivity. Associated problems with this were: the machinery required a different skill set from employees; Team Leaders were all too often focused on 'firefighting'; and there was no effective way of tracking productivity of each machine and work centre, which meant it was difficult to understand the return on investment.
The productivity achievement
New technologies such as automation is not about losing staff, but rather about getting the most out of the human resources available and using labour more efficiently leading to a wider base of productivity gains:
- Investing in technology has not been seen as a single solution to increasing productivity, but is a useful tool if used alongside related strategies such as skills development and organising work
- Better understanding of new machinery ensures staff have a range of multiple skills leading to increased efficiency and productivity
- Effective work processes has allowed for better focus by all areas of the company including better decision-making capabilities
- Appropriate time relay of information relating to measurement of productivity has greatly improved and has enabled productivity improvements to be carried out effectively rather than taking a reactive approach
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For further information on Cottonsoft, please visit their website www.cottonsoft.co.nz