Sunil Wijesinha, who pioneered the introduction of Japanese-style Quality Circles in Sri Lanka, was invited recently as the international judge for the Quality Circle Convention and competition of a major Indian manufacturing group SamvardhanaMotherson Group (SMG) in New Delhi.
The group has its presence in 25 countries with over 180 manufacturing facilities and 74 design centres across the world and employs 75,000 qualified professionals. The SMG group business portfolio comprises electrical distribution systems (wiring harnesses), automotive rear-view mirrors, polymer processing, injection moulding tools, elastomer processing, modules and systems,
machined metal products, cutting tools, IT services, engineering and design, CAE services, vehicle air conditioning systems, lighting systems, cabins for off-highway vehicles, cutting tools and thin film coating metals.
The management of SMG encourages its associates (non-executive level workers) to initiate improvements in their work areas with significant importance being given to the Quality Circle movement. The SamvardhanaMotherson Group has a total of 835 Quality Circles in its different companies across the world.
To promote the movement, the group has been organising an annual competition of Quality Circles for the past 16 years. This year 18 teams from India, the UAE, Spain, Singapore, the UK, the USA and Australia qualifying through preliminary rounds from eight zones across the globe participated in the final competition and the winner of the competition was awarded the Smt. Swaran Lata Sehgal Gold Trophy.
Quality Circles is an employee engagement and involvement technique which originated in Japan and aimed at floor level employees who are trained in problem-solving techniques to study, analyse, generate and implement improvements. It is credited with the huge quality improvement wave in Japan and other Asian countries in the 70s and 80s.
Although Sri Lanka’s interest in Quality Circles has had ups and downs, the movement in India has grown in quality and quantity. The last National Convention in India organised by the Quality Circle Forum was attended by 7,000 participants and had 950 presentations from 370 companies. The SamvardhanaMotherson Group is one among several other top level Indian companies to promote Quality Circles and reap the benefits.
Many of the presentations had models, drama, songs and other innovative ways of presentation. Since these were the best presentations after the preliminary rounds, all were of a high standard and the judges had a very tough time evaluating. Wijesinha has introduced Quality Circles in many organisation he worked in, in the private and public sectors. The most successful programmes were at Dankotuwa Porcelain PLC and at the Employees’ Trust Fund Board.