QUALITY IS MORE THAN A question of service reliability or an efficiently run plant. It needs to be viewed holistically and permeate all facets of an organisation, CLP Holdings public relations director Jane Lau says. Beyond adopting quality as a core value, an organisation should strive to be a good partner to the community, she said. Ms Lau said CLP was dedicated to the quality mantra for years through three aspects of its organisation - system and process management, technology, and staff. During the 1990s, the company adopted internationally recognised quality practices and management modules to guide its business, including Japanese-style '5S housekeeping' to improve workplace management, total quality management to foster a strong focus on customer satisfaction and a quality control circle system to drive perpetual business improvement. Three years ago, the company launched its first quality control convention, which saw staff from different departments forming small teams to generate innovation aimed at improving work processes. The annual staff convention was starting to yield real benefits, Ms Lau said, citing the remote earth fault indication system, which was helping engineers quickly identify weather-damaged overhead power lines for repair. On the technology front, the group prides itself on staying ahead with world-class power generation infrastructure. 'For example, our Black Point Power Station at Tuen Mun is the first natural gas-fired plant in Hong Kong,' Ms Lau said. Natural gas is much more environmentally friendly than other fuel sources and the combined cycle gas turbine at Black Point has a thermal efficiency ratio of about 53 per cent, among the world's highest. 'We were also the first to voluntarily retrofit all coal-fired units with low-NOx [nitrogen oxide] burners [in Hong Kong],' she said, adding that CLP had reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 40 per cent, nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide emissions by 65 per cent and particulate pollution by 80 per cent per unit of electricity produced. Another sign of the company's growing commitment to environmental management is its Renewable Energy Initiative. Under this scheme, CLP is developing a 'commercial-scale' wind turbine project. The company is now looking for an ideal spot to erect the turbine. The project is scheduled for completion in 2007. 'CLP also manages and operates a sophisticated transmission and distribution network using world-class technologies, systems and processes, to maximise the system reliability and minimise the impact of adverse weather conditions,' Ms Lau said. Recent upgrading work on the transmission network includes the installation of line arresters to reduce voltage dips or supply interruptions when lightning strikes at power lines. The third and final component of CLP's quality equation is human capital. Chief operating officer Stewart Saunders said: 'It is our firm belief that only by employing, developing and retaining the right people, can we be successful in our mission to be a world-class power utility. It starts with our recruitment policy. Various selection methods, including interviews, aptitude tests and competency model-based executive assessments are used to identify candidates' potential. 'Leadership development is a fundamental process at CLP. We have comprehensive management development and succession planning processes in place to identify and groom potential leaders to steer our business in the next decade. Their development is supported by a wide range of activities and programmes, including cross-functional assignments, job rotation and targeted training provided by leading business schools.' But on the ground level, what does this quality doctrine amount to? Ms Lau cited two figures: a more than 99.99 per cent reliable electricity supply and a 70 per cent improvement in customer minutes lost in the past 10 years. Looking beyond quality, CLP also attempts to instil community awareness as a core value in its corporate culture. The CLP Volunteer Team was a prime example of how CLP had been giving to the community, Ms Lau said. The fraternity of volunteers is now about 600-strong and celebrating its 10th birthday this year. The team hopes to recruit 300 family volunteers and provide 10,000 hours of service this year, expanding its service scope from rewiring homes for elderly people living alone to other programmes.