Peels And Meals

The new President of an Earthmoving Equipment plant in South India, was a Qualitist. He had the knack of spotting chronic problems in any organization.

On his first day at the plant he questioned the volume of garbage outside the messy workers canteen. This problem was further magnified by the fact that the garbage was stored below the staircase leading to the neat officers club, located above the canteen.

The President questioned the volume and cost of the garbage. The plant operated in three shifts. A key piece of information was that the local municipality refused to carry all the canteen garbage. This resulted in the daily rental of private dump trucks. These dump trucks cost the plant Rs 7,000 per day, on an average. Over and above that was the cost of wasted cooked food. Collectively, we refer to this as Cost Of Poor Quality (COPQ).

A management team was appointed by the President to solve this chronic problem.

In order to diagnose the problem, the team set up two bins: One for avoidable waste (such as cooked food); and the other for unavoidable waste (such as peels and packaging). Avoidable waste accounted for two-thirds of the total canteen waste,

Thereafter, the team interviewed workers at meal time, across three shifts. Here is a flavour of responses to the question “Why do you waste food?”

  • We are in South India and you serve us North Indian food
  • The meal break is only 30 minutes, and the lines are too long. So I pile up food
  • The ladles are too large. I could do with smaller servings
  • The ‘thalis’ are too large. So I pile up food.

The remedial actions involved:

  • Inviting a team of wives, by rotation, to set the menu and supervise the cooking
  • Scrapping the large ladles and ‘thalis’, and replacing them with smaller ones
  • Investing the saved COPQ into workers welfare.

The workers canteen now doubles up as a recreation club with facilities for table tennis and carrom.

The President won the Trust of workers.


  • Author :

    Suresh Lulla

  • Resource Link :


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