By: Elaine Lu
Exact Medical’s Factory 4 was inaugurated on Feb 8th, 2017 at Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. It is the first factory that is fully owned by EMM and not a joint venture.
The EMM Senior Management Team has been working together for 9 years and had achieved the expertise to effectively develop and manage this new opportunity. It truly was a thrilling and remarkable moment. A time to put us to the test.
In spite of having so much experience with the other three joint venture factories, we knew there would be new challenges ahead.
As is known to all, there are six essentials to opening and running new a factory:
We spent months in developing and building new machines with consistent and strong performance, sourcing diversified material with high quality, introducing more efficient and effective production methods, building the clean rooms and facility requirements, hiring and training new employees. Over the months, we came across unforeseen difficulties and obstacles, but we found solutions and solved problems. In the end, we got everything set up successfully for the opening on Feb 8th, 2017.
As EMM is a financially strong company, we had the resources to develop the new factory as we envisioned.
We found one of the biggest challenges however was how to manage over 300 new production operators from all walks of life. They have different working experience, different levels of quality awareness and different education background. Developing them into one cohesive team with shared values was not an easy task.
In most Chinese traditional factories operators are paid by pieces. The more they produce the more salary they get. Some of the operators can only get a minimum base salary which is discouraging to them and results in high turnover rate of employees in the factory. However, at the EMM factory, we promoted “pay by efficiency” as an incentive. We pay each operator a strong and satisfactory guaranteed base salary and meanwhile set up reasonable but efficient production requirements. Once operators’ production efficiency goes above that baseline, both the operator and EMM can benefit from it. The higher the efficiency operators achieve, the more salary they are paid above the base pay but it is also structured to lower the cost to the company. This new policy promotes competition among operators, which in return increased general production efficiency dramatically and also establishes a stable workforce. In addition the company is not concerned that production workers are “making too much money” because it is structured that the more the worker makes the lower the cost to the company.
Many of our employees previously worked at textile clothing companies. They had no knowledge of medical devices and the related quality requirements. They thought it was easy to produce our products since they had very good experience in producing clothes. The lessons of learning that EMM is a highly quality focused company can be somewhat painful to them. After their production was rejected and reworked or scrapped several times, they learned those lessons very well. Through constant effort by management team, employees have internalized serious quality attitudes and are capable in producing high quality products efficiently. Our quality metrics of DPM, CPM and scrap rates have confirmed to us our quality success. We know it is extremely important to “do it right the first time”.
Additionally, we have successfully implemented “self-managed work teams” at the EMM factory. In China this is a novel approach. Traditional Chinese Management believes that people are bad. That they must be watched carefully and continuously or they will do bad things. EMM however believes that people are good. We don’t think that our workers wake up in the morning thinking “I am going to do a bad job today”. As a result, we encouraged each operator to manage his or her work independently without supervision. We trust each operator but verify their work at intervals. As a result EMM operators feel respected, grateful and motivated while working here.
The results of our initiatives have been remarkable. We are measuring significant increases in production efficiency and reduction in scrap and quality issues. We are also maintaining a work force with very low turnover and we all know the benefits of a stable motivated work force.
An addition benefit for EMM’s management philosophy is zero effort to recruit new employees when hiring is needed. From word of mouth only we have a waiting list of people wanting to come and join our company. A testament to our path forward.
A new challenge is but a new opportunity.
EMM has seized that opportunity to manage production entirely in our own vision.
Biography of Elaine Lu
Elaine Lu joined Exact Medical Manufacturing in 2009. Ms. Elaine has witnessed company growth over last nine years, which has made her life and career change as well.
During those years, Ms. Elaine has established, maintained and implemented the Quality Management System within four EMM facilities adequately and effectively. In the process, she has developed a strong, stable and competent team to work with her. In the past years, she has led the team to successfully pass numerous customer audits, US FDA audits, CFDA audits etc.
As a team leader of EMM CN, Ms. Elaine has opportunity to get involved in every detail of each process of the company, which lays foundation for successful and robust Quality System.
Ms. Elaine is an influential employee. She is able to inject energy and spirit into individuals around her.
In her free time, Ms. Elaine likes playing Yoga, Guzheng and Jogging.