Mi Hub’s Logistic Centre, based in the East Midlands, covers 630,000 sq ft and dispatches up to 20 million garments per year for the group’s three corporate apparel brands; Dimensions, Alexandra and Yaffy.
Mi Hub is one of the world’s leading suppliers of corporate clothing solutions, supplying garments and PPE to key workers across the globe. So, when faced with the COVID-19 crisis, Mi Hub’s Steve Cassapi FCILT, knew that he needed to employ decisive leadership and effective communication to ensure operational efficiency and guarantee that vital uniform and PPE would still reach essential frontline workers.
At the start of the crisis Cassapi and his team began operational planning which resulted in a comprehensive COVID-19 operational response strategy paper. Commenting on the initial response, Cassapi said: “Communication is key at the LC, especially as part of our Lean Six Sigma way of working, so it was imperative that we had a robust plan of action that we could communicate to our teams right from the start of the pandemic.
A number of measures were put in place immediately to allow the teams to work effectively, but more importantly to allow the teams to work safely. A good practice document was issued to all staff along with a key worker letter to allow people to travel to work.
We adhered to the two-metre social distancing guidelines and ensured the clocking in areas were marked with distance control zones, along with creating two-metre separation zones in the packing facilities and other functions where the job is static, as well as all key activity areas and office support functions.
To allow circa 150 people to work on site safely throughout the period meant we needed to think differently. We maximised our multiple shift patterns to spread labour more evenly, even working the Bank Holidays! We reduced the canteen capacity reduced by 50%, adjusted break times and increased outdoor seating availability.
Our cleaning strategy was altered with key focus areas and hand gels, gloves, masks and anti-bacterial wipes were provided in all key activity areas.”
The Logistics Centre found it easy to implement their response plan as it works on the principles of 5S, so the base line disciplines were already in place. With communication being key, weekly and daily briefs were already in place which are provided to all the team by ways of Leadership team briefs, regular updates on Operational Excellence boards and email communication.
By adopting the Lean Six Sigma principles to the response planning process, attendance issues were minimised where after week two of lockdown the attendance levels were in line with the previous three years and there were no confirmed Covid-19 cases.
When asked if there had been any lessons learned from the pandemic, Cassapi said: “Absolutely! There are five key areas of best practice that we will take forward.
Firstly, the LC Leadership team will promote greater flexible working patterns and certain job roles that can work from home will do so more often. Not only will this new way of working benefit our people, it will improve our environmental impact too.
The operational shielding screens at packing areas will stay in place as well as the temperature checks for all staff entering the building; this will help with seasonal illness and presenteeism.
A key take away for us is our workflow management. We altered workflows within the WMS to prevent labour bottle necks and we will continue to look at this is a different way along with production scheduling.
We will be re-assessing our SLA’s and KPI’s in line with the tolerance shown during this period.
And last, but certainly not least, we will continue our investment in cross-training and L6S people development as this has been our greatest strength during the crisis to allow us to deal with extreme variable demands.”