Yes, you read that right. Instead of waking up at 4.00 am in the morning, I do so at 4.05! As someone who loves sleeping, I value every minute of sleep I can get. Getting out of bed in the morning can be a struggle, so I do a quick stretch to wake myself up before I start to prepare for work. Our Human Resources Department asked us to wear this COVID Vaxx Shirt today in celebration of the National COVID Vaccination Day, so here I am in my Outfit of the Day:
At exactly 4.35 am, I begin my ten-minute walk towards the nearest company shuttle pick-up point. My shift usually starts at 6:00 in the morning, but I have to wake up and leave early because I don’t want to miss the shuttle. I live with my family in the same city as the URC plant where I am assigned, but the drive to get there takes at least thirty minutes. Jeepneys and tricycles are also a rare sighting at the area where the plant is located, so commuting via public transport is a real hassle. Once the company shuttle arrives at the pick-up point, I climb aboard, sit in my usual spot, snuggle in my jacket (it gets really cold inside the bus!), and of course, take much-needed sleep for the rest of the way. Again, every minute of sleep counts!
I am not fond of eating heavy breakfasts in early mornings, so I usually bring with me a simple sandwich and a slice of apple to quickly munch on as soon as I arrive at the plant. By this time, the energy I gained from sleeping starts to kick in, and I then change into my GMP uniform ready to face the day ahead.
As a Manufacturing Management Trainee, I was given the opportunity to rotate into the different departments of the plant to learn their respective functions and responsibilities. Right now, I am doing my immersion at one of the plant’s three Production Departments. One of the things I learned throughout my immersion is to have a daily routine. Try sticking to it as much as you can and you’re good to go! Of course, my daily activities are not exactly the same, but checking for any unread e-mails is always the first thing I do once I get to the office. I found this to be a helpful practice because most of the e-mails that I receive in the morning are updates from the different plant departments. Since their activities are interrelated, these updates also help each department prioritize what needs to be done for the day. One trick that I also like to do in the morning is to schedule send any e-mail that I need to send within the day, just to make sure that I don’t forget to do it. I also check my calendar to plan my activities for the day with more detail.
Once the clock hits 7.30 am, our production team of Production Supervisors and Operators will convene in a designated area where we do this activity called Line Daily Direction Setting. Through this meeting, we briefly discuss any quality and safety-related concerns, as well as the goals and activities that we need to accomplish during the shift.
While waiting for the next scheduled daily activity, I do my own personal learning session. One advantage of being a Management Trainee in URC is that we get to be mentored by the company leaders themselves. My mentor would always remind me to study the science behind each manufacturing process and equipment so that it would be easier for me to identify the root cause and apply the proper troubleshooting measures should a problem arise. The company also sometimes conduct online trainings and give out learning modules which have been of great help in making me understand the operations better. It honestly feels like college all over again, but I get to actually apply what I learned back in college this time around.
When I’m not inside the production office, I can be found near this one particular machine on the production line. Currently, I am working with a team on a Work Process Improvement Project which aims to decrease production downtime due to the daily cleaning procedure being done on this machine. Through the application of different data gathering and analysis tools, areas for improvement in the cleaning process can be identified.
Back at the production office, we do a Department Daily Directional Setting where the production manager, production supervisors, and maintenance supervisors meet to discuss the performance of the lines, identify any problem that needs to be solved for the day, and formulate an action plan on how this problem will be solved.
Time for some leg work! With a pen and clipboard on hand, I now proceed to the production area for my daily one-on-one coaching on the floor. Since I am in the middle of my Production Immersion, I use this time to ask an available Production Operator or Production Supervisor to teach me more about the actual activities on the production line. I usually focus on one process area at a time to study the machine being used there. What is its purpose? How does it work and how do you operate it? What are the process parameters that must be monitored? What troubleshooting measures do you do when you encounter this type of problem? These are the questions I frequently ask them. When it comes to manufacturing, simply knowing the principles is not enough. We also have to be able to apply them in our day-to-day operations.
As a young professional, I feel truly grateful to have been under the care and guidance of plant leaders who are willing to spare some of their time to coach me despite their busy schedules. At least once a week, we hold a coaching session where I share with them updates on my plant activities and learning journey so far. What I like about our coaching sessions is that they feel like a safe space and really a two-way communication where we get to share anything under the sun. Our conversations don’t always have to revolve around work. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the pieces of advice on plant operations and people management that they give me. It just feels reassuring to know that there are leaders who understand that work can be stressful at times and are keen on giving you pieces of life advice. I am also lucky to have been assigned to a plant with a 'buddy', another Manufacturing Management Trainee who is a batch older than me. Since she went through the same program that I am going through right now, she also gives me tips at work.
The much-awaited time of the day: Lunchtime! After a productive morning, my workmates and I would eat lunch together at the canteen. Here’s a piece of advice though: if you can take your lunch earlier than 12.00 pm, please do so. The tasty 'ulams' get sold out easily!
My afternoons are allotted for attending any scheduled online plant meetings which may last from one hour to three hours, depending on the meeting agenda. Usual plant meetings are centered on the review of plant operations where the different departments present the status of their operations in a more detailed manner. If I still have time left, I do my progress report where I type down my key learnings. Having a good notetaking habit is essential. In doing so, I get to record and review what I have learned so far and note any questions that suddenly popped into my head. I also prefer spending my afternoons doing any pending project tasks and completing any other priorities for the day.
Since I am still in the middle of my department immersions, my schedule is still relatively flexible. I try my best to finish everything by 5.00 pm so that I could go home early to take much needed rest. During my coaching sessions with him, our plant manager would always highlight the importance of having a good work-life balance. For someone who is just starting in her career, this has been the most helpful advice that I have received so far.
My hours after work are dedicated to spending time with my family, myself, and at other times…my Manufacturing Management Trainee Batch 11 batchmates! Although we are assigned in different URC plants, we try to schedule a get-together in order to bond, relax, and catch-up with each other. Albeit incomplete, here’s a cute photo of us after having dinner together:
Finally! After a hard day’s work, I get to be in my bed again. See you again tomorrow, URC!