ONE MAN’S BRILLIANT IDEA = HUGE SAVINGS
CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT (C.I.) is happening right here on the Nchalo Estate, Malawi! George Kontinyu, an irrigator in Area 2 Section 21, decided he could not watch mild steel sliding gates vanishing because of theft. These are gates that control the flow of water in furrow irrigation and, without them, irrigation cannot take place. A steel gate costs K169 535.
Theft of these gates had got out of hand and was costing the company big sums of money. George says it was so painful to him to see work not being done properly because of theft of the gates that he thought there surely must be another way of dealing with the challenge. So he went to the Area 2 scrapyard where he got hold of Ultra Polyvinyl Acetate (UPVC) scrap.
He cut it, heated it to make a flat sheet and then cut it to the right dimensions as shown in the picture. This is already being implemented in the areas where there is furrow irrigation.
But George did not stop there. He went ahead, applying his mind to what he thought was a solution to another challenge - the problem of cups for applying fertiliser in the fields. He started making cups using old UPVC scrap pipes. The picture shows George holding one of the cups he made out of PVC pipe.
So far he has made 634 PVC fertiliser cups at a total cost of K41 806 (K65.94 each). Formerly, the estate used to buy plastic cups which were deforming easily. Buying the same number of cups would have cost K351 870, as each cup cost K555. George’s cups are durable and can stand high temperatures without deforming.
News about George`s initiatives spread through the Estate and reached Illovo Head office, drawing good comments. Nchalo’s then GM Bruce Holmes came to encourage and support George and to find out what challenges and risks he was facing. He asked: “What are the tools that you may require in order to make your job easier?” and George said he needed a cutting machine and heating equipment, among other things.
He has trained a colleague to help him in making the furrow sliding gates and the fertiliser cups. But it was observed that with additional PPE (personal protective equipment) such as an apron, mouth mask, gloves and goggles, and a proper working table and grinding equipment, his work may be made simple and the output can increase. The job will be assessed by relevant authorities on risks and hazards in order to mitigate them so that there can be mass production of the items and many people can be trained on the initiative.
GEORGE KONTINYU points at Ultra Polyvinyl Acetate (UPVC) scrap in the Area 2 scrapyard.
SLIDING gates in the irrigation furrows are now being made of Ultra Polyvinyl Acetate (UPVC) and standing behind is the man who came up with the idea, irrigator George Kontinyu, “just an ordinary guy who applied his mind to his job”. Nzotheka! (It’s possible! Or U.S.: Yes we can!)
GEORGE holds one of the cups he made out of PVC pipe for applying fertiliser in the fields.
FROM LEFT are Mcfield Masoakhumbira (farm manager), Nchalo general manager Bruce Holmes, irrigator George Kontinyu, the man behind the C.I (Continuous Improvement) initiative, and farm manager Ibrahim Sawamba.