Fresh Produce – Efficiency Improvement

Background Process Plant

A supplier to a major supermarket chain requested the help of Lauras International to support efficiency improvements within one of their production facilities. Following assessment of opportunity, Lauras’ role was to introduce a culture of performance and engage the workforce to deliver the target opportunity.

Issue / Problem

The management team, although experienced in day to day production methods, had little experience of making, and sustaining significant improvement / change.  Overtime appeared to be institutionalised, heavily weighted at the end of the week and over the weekend, regardless of the order profile variations.  A significant proportion of part of their process was outsourced, at a significant cost, due to capacity constraints. This meant that the site had less control, but the view was that this would be difficult to bring in-house without significant investment in new equipment. They looked to Lauras International to help them make step changes in efficiency but were sceptical about how lasting change could be achieved when developing a workforce of varying languages and who weren’t actively engaged.

Solution

A Continuous Improvement (CI) Manager was identified from within the business and three short workshops commenced. Operators from different areas of the business joined the CI Manager on each workshop along with the Lauras team. De-bottlenecking, problem solving, and cycle time reduction skills were developed, initially in the training room and then applied out on the lines.  Using these tools the team increased each line’s speed by a minimum of 10% and increased the total run time by a further 5% per day through improved shift start-ups and end of shift cleans.  Problem solving to route caused enabled further benefits by reducing downtime.  Specific examples include improved product feed procedures and the elimination of product misalignment.  As a result, a significant proportion of outsourced washing was brought in-house.  All this was achieved without spending a single penny on capital equipment.
Meeting structures were also introduced to ensure that improvement activities were effectively communicated and driven, thus supporting sustained activity, and establishing a performance culture.

Benefits

The business’ engagement survey has produced brilliant results. Since the completion of the workshops the site team have continued to drive performance and have reduced the Labour Cost per Tonne by 35% over a sustained period.