After nearly thirty years at 67 Ayer Rajah Crescent, an industrial building located in the south west of Singapore, CMI was offered the opportunity to relocate further out west in a new building dedicated to the medical technology industry.
This relocation mirrors Singapore’s own industrial transformation — from its labor intensive industries in the 1960s to its move upstream into higher value-added markets like electronics in the 1980s, through today, when it is investing heavily in medtech.
When we first visited the bare unit on the 6th floor of the JTC Medtech Hub it stroke me as a unique opportunity to re-engineer CMI’s manufacturing concept.
Our previous offices in Ayer Rajah were divided into multiple rooms that resulted in a very silo-ed organization. Therefore our first decision was to design an open area to promote material flow, collaboration between the various departments and visual management.
Originally established as an offshore manufacturing plant for a Japanese company, Central Midori has been influenced by the Japanese way of manufacturing and production management. In Japan the gemba means the “real place. In business it refers to the place where value is created. And in manufacturing the gemba is the factory floor. As a manufacturer it is essential to put the factory floor at the center of the company in such a way that all employees realize that value is created on the manufacturing floor.
When isolated from the factory floor peripheral departments such as engineering, quality and production control can lose sight of what really matters to the company’s success. For that reason we positioned the desks of products and quality engineers on the factory floor, literally meters away from our machine operators.
Transparency was another one of our concerns. In our old offices we had already opened a window in our meeting room to see the printing department. In our new location, glass walls have replaced plain walls and anyone visiting CMI can easily see our machinery.
Another element of Japanese workplace culture that influenced our design decisions is the 5S methodology. The name comes from five Japanese words starting with the letter S: Seiri, Seiton, Seisō, Seiketsu, and Shitsuke, translated in English as “Sort”, “Set In order”, “Shine”, “Standardize” and “Sustain”.
Every detail of our new plant was carefully analyzed from the perspective of 5S. Our ESD flooring is easy to clean and the walls are coated with washable paint. The machines, trolleys, tables, storage racks are all purposely arranged to reduce clutter. New segregated trash bins use color codes to separate our waste materials. We also invested in a new cleaning machine.
Safety was on the top of our priority’s list. A week after finishing the move we hired a consultant to complete a thorough audit and in the following weeks we implemented a newly designed Safety Management System.
The office area was laid out to encourage interactions between our staff. Height adjustable standing desks arranged in team clusters — no partitions, no cubicles, lots of plants and lots of light.
Singapore is an island located at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula, 150 km north from the equator with a typical equatorial climate with no real seasons. It’s either hot or very hot, humid or very humid, with massive thunderstorms and rainfall that can last from 30 mins to a few hours. Hence, air conditioning and ventilation are not optional. The unit came with a chilled water cooling system, a major upgrade compared to what we had at Ayer Rajah. We also invested in a high performance ventilation system to offset the tunnel ovens air extraction.
After 6 weeks in our new unit things are beginning to feel more normal. On May 15th we will hold a Grand Opening ceremony with some executives of the Demmel Group, including our CEO, as well as many of our customers, suppliers and business partners. We hope you’ll be able to join us as well.