Creating Exceptional Workplaces by managing industrial consumables and PPE holistically

The impact of wastage is both financial and environmental. Inefficient use of supplies and resources in manufacturing environments increases waste and correspondingly, the costs. Profitability can take a hit with higher production and maintenance costs in an unstable economy. Additionally, the waste generated in the process is likely to end up in landfill, damaging the environment.

Manufacturing companies are constantly under pressure to reduce costs within their operations. Given the rising cost of materials, adopting a smarter approach to the use of supplies can cut down wastage, ultimately benefitting the environment and the company’s bottom line. Industrial consumables and personal protective equipment (PPE) are two areas where companies can introduce efficiencies that will not only improve work processes but also reduce costs through optimised use.

The sourcing, management and use of industrial supplies such as paints, solvents or chemicals can present several problems from potential contamination, fire hazards and poor accessibility, to wasteful evaporation, over-application and disposal hassles.  

Similarly, PPE is often considered cumbersome by workers who may remove it to avoid obstruction at work. Protective equipment should be suited to the task, have correct fit and be worn properly so that the worker has the freedom and flexibility to work without being tempted to remove it.

Kimberly-Clark Professional (KCP) recommends a Lean approach to managing both industrial supplies and PPE for efficient and positive outcomes in terms of greater safety, reduced wastage, higher productivity and increased profitability. KCP’s Exceptional Workplaces program combines Lean principles with on-site evaluations to identify operational inefficiencies and create customised solutions.

The Exceptional Workplaces program

KCP leverages its expertise in industrial supply management to evaluate the entire lifecycle of the supplies used by the facility or worksite, including product choice, storage, dispensing, use and disposal. KCP, then, applies its expertise to find simple ways to eliminate wastes and hazards.

In Step 1 of the process, The Walk, KCP consultants will walk through the manufacturing facility or worksite to assess storage, use, management and disposal of consumables, and identify hazards, waste and other inefficiencies. They will also observe workers’ use of PPE, evaluate the equipment’s suitability for the application or environment, and get feedback on issues.

Step 2, Solve is the solutions stage, which is based on empowering the workers so that they are on board with the decisions. The issues associated with industrial consumables can be addressed, for instance, by replacing the traditional open-bucket-and-rags approach or harmful solvents with single-use, pre-soaked Kimberley-Clark Wypall wipes, reducing waste and increasing safety. KCP’s consultative process will factor in the reasons workers try to bypass fixed procedures for PPE to carry out a task even if it exposes them to risk.

Improvements will be made so that workers have the right consumables and PPE to work safely, and they no longer have to work around the previous inefficiencies. Workers will also receive training on the use of new supplies and protective equipment.

Step 3, Evaluation and Extension, is where KCP consultants will conduct an assessment of the worksite to ensure the implemented solutions are having the desired outcomes and will also explore the possibility of applying these processes in other areas of the client’s facility.


KCP has successfully implemented the Exceptional Workplaces program for manufacturers in the automotive, aerospace and metal sectors among others, delivering improved efficiency and safety in their use of supplies and PPE.

KCP’s success with the Exceptional Workplaces program comes from the site-specific customised solutions approach taken by their consultants as well as the company’s own experience in adopting the recommended methodology. By applying the same principles, Kimberly-Clark was able to eliminate 1,404,641 hours of wasted time during 2011-12, delivering a total value of US$2.2 billion in revenue, working capital and cost savings.

Learn how Kimberly-Clark’s Exceptional Workplaces program can help you achieve best practice in waste reduction and hazard minimisation for greater efficiency, safety, savings and profitability. 

Click here to download the accompanying whitepaper.

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