Coca-Cola: Redesigning Jobs For Industry 4.0
Words by Julia Chan
EZ-link, credit cards, and mobile app enabled vending machine

For over 20 years, Coca-Cola Singapore Beverages (CCSB) has been delivering happiness to customers all over Singapore via its vending machines, which are stocked with various beverages such as Coca-Cola, Schweppes and Vitaminwater.

As Singapore progresses into Industry 4.0, more customers prefer using cashless payments, such as EZ-link, credit cards, smartwatches, and contactless-payment apps on our mobile phones, instead of carrying coins around. Having an ageing workforce also requires CCSB to implement solutions to make their jobs easier, smarter and safer.

This means that CCSB has to transform its Singapore business to keep up with trends, simultaneously redesign its jobs and enable its workers to keep pace as well.

What challenges did CCSB workers face in the past?

In the past, CCSB workers faced several challenges when replenishing stock and collecting cash from the vending machines, which were not connected to any system to indicate the stock level and auto-counting of coins.

Based on a prediction of goods load, sales and visit frequency using historical data, each worker had to visit each vending machine in his list to check which stocks were low and then manually fill in a sales table. He then had to return to his van to pull out the required stocks before going back to the same machine a second time to replenish the stock.

He would use a trolley where stocks would be below knee level, yet he had to stock above shoulder height. Hence, he would either have to bend up and down repeatedly or use his knee or hip to support heavy cartons while replenishing the machine.

Coins collected from machines needed to be counted manually before the worker returned the coins to the company, leading to inaccuracies. In addition, as there was no ability to tell in advance which beverages the machines were low on, he needed to stock his van with all the different products from the warehouse, some of which may be redundant. Any loose returned stocks would still need to be repackaged upon returning to the warehouse, which increased the load of the warehouse team. All these work processes resulted in frequent overtime, and the worker was usually too busy to engage customers.

How did CCSB redesign its vending machines, and jobs, to adapt to Industry 4.0?

In 2019, CCSB embarked on several projects such as the WorkPro Job Redesign, Inclusive Growth Programme, and Professional Development Programme with NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i). The company aimed to reengineer its business model, increase work efficiency, and create higher-value jobs to benefit its workforce of over 200 local employees.

CCSB Team with NTUC's e2i

With e2i’s support, CCSB conceptualised the CCSB Worker 4.0 programme and identified Adaptive, Technical and Technological skills that its workers needed to acquire during the company’s technological transformation. To roll out the CCSB Worker 4.0 program, the company worked together with its union, the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU), committing to a job redesign project and a two-year training plan for its workers.

Mr Gaurav Sharma (Global HR Director – Bottling Investments Group, CCSB) elaborating on the skills in the Worker 4.0 programme that CCSB embarked on with NTUC’s e2i and FDAWU

Equipping workers and vending machines for Industry 4.0

To make jobs easier, smarter and safer for workers, CCSB invested in Coin Counting Vending Machines enabled with multiple payment modes such as EZ-link, credit cards, and mobile apps.

Customers can pay using cards and mobile apps

With e-payments, the worker also carries fewer coins back, and coins are already automatically counted by the machine which separates old and new coins, and is much more efficient than manually counting. Prices of the beverages could also be changed remotely using a telemetry system.

The worker (and his sales colleagues) can also track the following information for each machine in real-time – sales reporting, inventory, and product analysis. Now the worker simply refers to his tablet to see the types and quantities of stocks he needs to put into his van, which machines to visit, what exactly he needs to replenish each machine with, and the sales figures.

A worker can easily refer to his tablet to find out the type and quantity of each beverage to replenish even before going to the vending machine

CCSB also retrofitted its trolleys with a fabricated shelf-top on the trolley where workers can stack beverages onto at waist height within easy reach to replenish the vending machines. This prevents the repeated movement of bending up and down during stock up to save time and reduce the strain on the workers’ bodies.

With a fabricated shelf on the trolley, the worker doesn’t need to bend up and down to replenish stock

With more time and customer service skills learnt from training, the worker can build relationships and engage customers to introduce new beverage variants or hear their feedback.

Training each worker to become Worker 4.0

To enable their workers to build their Adaptive, Technical and Technological skills, CCSB provided training for them to equip them with a holistic understanding of company’s job redesign, the re-modelled vending business workflow and processes, and basic knowledge on vending machine maintenance. Impacted workers not only enjoyed less physically strenuous jobs and reduced overtime hours; they also received a wage increase for higher productivity.

In recognition of its efforts and commitments to ensure job security for its workforce, CCSB was also presented the e2i Trailblazer Award in 2020.

Fun fact: Singapore is the first nation that CCSB is pioneering their Worker 4.0 system in, with the potential to impact workers in other countries that Coca-Cola is operating in as well.

To learn more about Coca-Cola Singapore Beverages (CCSB), visit www.coca-cola.com.sg/

 

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