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Rourkela Steel Plant - A Saga of Transformation

Rourkela Steel Plant, in around two and a half years, has achieved one of the most dramatic turnarounds in Corporate Indian History. The Steel Plant, which was on the threshold of oblivion a few years ago, is now firmly on the net profit mode. While RSP’s turnaround started on a modest note in the year 2001-02 it gradually picked up speed and in the first ten months of the current financial year RSP surpassed the production levels of all earlier years.
Records Galore : By producing 1.47 million tones (MT) of Hot Metal, 1.32 MT Crude Steel and 1.3 Million Tons of Saleable Steel during the period April 2003 to January 2004, RSP broke new records. The Sale of RSP products grew by 8% during the period April-January and the Plant operations moved on to net profit mode in January. It may be recalled that RSP had commenced the new financial year by producing high volumes but only against market demand. Consistent with this objective RSP focused on enhancing capacity utilization to bring down the cost of production. Another important step taken by the Steel Plant towards profitability has been its success in increasing the proportion of high value added products in its saleable steel basket.
RSP made major improvements in the areas of steel quality, packaging, delivery and customer satisfaction thereby vastly enhancing the acceptability of its products in the highly competitive steel market. Thrust was imparted to the packaging of HR coils, CRNO, Galvanized Plain and Corrugated sheets and Tin Plates resulting in this value added products reaching the customers intact. This has enhanced customer satisfaction leading to greater acceptance of RSP’s products. This can be gauged from the surge in dispatches. The Steel Plant dispatched 1.3 million tonnes of Saleable Steel during the first ten months of the current financial year, which stands out as the best so far since inception.
Enhancing Aesthetics, Nurturing Nature : Apart from crossing new milestones on the production and productivity front in the township too the Plant has been making fresh endeavors in the area of enhancing aesthetics and nurturing nature.
Since more than a year RSP has been making intensive efforts for garbage disposal, fighting the menace posed by plastic carry bags and making the region more verdant. Last February RSP organized a unique campaign, at the initiative of the Chief Executive against the use of plastic bags, which evoked an unprecedented response. More than 12,000 citizens, including students and youth in large numbers, formed an eight and a half kilometer human chain, held hands and took a pledge to stop using polythene and plastic bags. It is noteworthy that RSP’s efforts at spreading the canopy of green have resulted in the planting of more than 36 lakhs saplings covering 35% of the land belonging to RSP. In the current financial year alone more than 40,000 saplings have been planted. What is special about the plantation drive in the recent past is that more and more school children are being involved in the noble venture and there is a greater thrust on greening of works area. This year an award has been instituted to recognize the greenest departments in the Works area every year. Besides, to improve the aesthetics more flower bearing trees are being planted. Dr. Mishra, an avid nature lover, has exhorted the Rourkelites to make Rourkela a garden city. To provide an added impetus to this movement the Managing Director revived the Rose and Chrysanthemum Show after a gap of four years. The Rourkelites responded to this gesture by participating in the show with great enthusiasm.
Recently, a face lift has been given to the entire steel township which includes cleaning and carpeting of roads, repairs of drains, removal of garbage, modification of chowks keeping in mind road safety, besides general cleanliness. This has been greatly appreciated by the public at large as well as the visitors to the Steel City. It is significant that the drive for solid waste utilization stepped up by the Plant has not only resulted in disposal of wastes that are a potential environmental hazard but also earned substantial revenue for the Plant. For instance in the period April 2003 to January 2004 RSP earned a revenue of Rs. 15 cores through disposal of 3,60,000 tons of solid wastes.
Cultural Renaissance : The upbeat mood in the Plant found its reflection in the civic life of the Steel City. To create a cultural renaissance in the region, Rourkela Steel Plant, at the initiative of the Chief Executive of Rourkela Steel Plant, introduced the concept of a ‘Cultural Calendar’. As per this unique concept important festivals will form an intrinsic part of this calendar and will be celebrated every year. This will go a long way in making Rourkela a center of cultural excellence and give it a pride of place on the nation’s cultural map. Keeping this objective in mind RSP has started organizing and patronizing several programmes to celebrate festivals, which symbolize the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Orissa. Some of these programmes include Kumar Utsav, Baisakhi Kavya Sandhya, Megh Malhar and a special cultural programme to commemorate SAIL Foundation Day. On these occasions many eminent artistes of national and international repute were felicitated. These include the late Akshay Mohanty, Mr.Pranab Patnaik, Mr. Shantanu Mohapatra, Ms. Kumkum Mohanty, Mr.Mohammad Sikandar Alam and Mrs. Sanjukta Mohanty Ray. RSP strongly believes that one of the most fruitful investments that can be made in the present generation is in the field of sports. With this credo in mind it is implementing a strategy to hone the skills of the budding talents and provide a fresh impetus to the sports activities in the region. As a part of this strategy in the current financial year the Sports Department of Rourkela Steel Plant has conducted several tournaments to impart a fresh impetus to the sports activities in the State. These include Orissa State Chess Championship, All Orissa Body Building Championship, SAIL Under –19 Cricket Championship, All Orissa Junior Boys Basketball Championship, Inter-Steel Plant Weight Lifting Championship, Annual Athletic Meet – 2003-04 of CHSE, Orissa, Steel Trophy Invitational Hockey Tournament, Inter-Steel Plants Cricket Championship etc. Plans are on the anvil to conduct many more national, SAIL and State level tournaments to give a further boost to sports in Orissa.
Unparalleled Communication Campaign : RSP, it is evident, is now firmly on the path of resurgence. How did this transformation come about? How did the Steel Plant bounce back from the brink of extinction to the realm of prosperity? The saga of this transformation is a story of visionary planning, immaculate implementation, total commitment and sheer hard work.
Soon after taking over as the Chief Executive of the Plant, Dr. Sanak Mishra reached out to the employees in various forums. While he found a lack of synergy and synthesis in the organization he was impressed by the potential of the Steel Plant Collective. To enable the employees to understand, assimilate and internalize the organization’s priorities and implement them in day-to-day working the Chief Executive launched a massive communication campaign that has no precedence in corporate history.
Under the leadership of the Chief Executive, a series of communication exercises, workshops, interaction sessions were held involving employees’ participation in large and small groups. Deliberations were held on day-to-day technical bottlenecks in open sessions in which the employees participated in hundreds expressing their commitment and concern for the Plant. The massive Mass Contact exercise on ‘Regenerating Strength with people for the survival and future of RSP’ launched by the Chief Executive in the year 2002-2003, made history with its impact.
Keeping in mind the changed vision of RSP, in the year 2003-04, the objective of the Mass Contact Programme was changed to “Regenerating Strength with People for the Profitability and Prosperity of RSP.” The Rourkela Collective has adopted a mission which reads as: “The future of our Steel Plant lies in our own hands. It is our individual and collective responsibility to rebuild our Plant into a profitable, harmonious and vibrant organization. We will do whatever things are necessary which are good for our Plant. We shall never do anything that hurts our Plant.” In order to focus discussion among the employees of the unit in the context of current priorities, make them understand their individual roles in the turnaround of the Plant and elicit their commitment for positive contributions to achieve the growth plan of the Plant, a new weekly forum called ‘General Manger Communication Meeting’ popularly known as ‘GMCM’ has been launched at the initiative of MD.
To further enhance the synergy and synthesis achieved as a result of the communication interventions launched by him, the Chief Executive, has formulated another unique strategy, which he refers to as “Samskara”. It revolves around a philosophical code of leadership practise: ‘We have to create and sustain a peaceful work environment where every employee can contribute to the Plant in assigned area of work, with full freedom and dignity and without fear’. In tune with the philosophy of Samskar RSP initiated several reforms like Direct Reporting System, Gate Control, Check-off Facility to Multi-Unions, Change in the system of issuing ID Cards to Contractors and Redeployment. It is significant that many of these reforms owe their genesis to the suggestions given by employees in the various interaction sessions with the top management. Employees in general have welcomed these measures and have expressed their confidence that these innovative steps would provide an added impetus to the Steel Plant’s efforts at improving the work culture.

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