Learning the recipe for streamlining food processing
Earlee Products has been creating ingredients and processing food products for around 30 years. The company has partnered with leading food and beverage manufacturers across Australia, and the world, using technical expertise to solve challenges and identify new opportunities in the food innovation space. With the ability to customise food processing methods and capitalise on consumer trends, the company focuses on enhancing taste, texture or visual appeal of food products, improving manufacturing cost efficiencies, offering cleaner, more sustainable alternatives, and ensuring food safety, quality and functionality.
Earlee Products produces a wide range of food product lines for different customers. This means the production lines are changed frequently throughout the day, which can cause disruption to the work crews and workflow. Wet and dry production are completely different processes involving long and time-consuming changeovers. The company wanted to streamline these processes in order to reduce changeover and lead time as well as reduce waste, so they enlisted the help of ‘lean’ consulting company TXM Lean Solutions (TXM).
Senior Lean Consultant at TXM Gary Pollard worked alongside Earlee Products for 16 months to implement people-centric process improvements based on lean thinking for their operation.
When Pollard first started with the company, all the departments had no real understanding of lean and its benefits. It was clear that employee buy-in was therefore going to be crucial for the success of the project.
Pollard discovered that the departments operated like silos; they only really talked to each other when there was a problem that needed solving. The siloed communication created a considerable barrier to the success of the project, so the staff from all departments would need to be engaged.
Dry production at Earlee Products.
The lean solution
Lean thinking is a methodology that can be applied to food processing by focusing staff on streamlining workflows in a manner that can deliver more value while eliminating waste.
‘Value stream mapping’ was used to identify the departments and their communications channels — this further highlighted the lack of communication between departments. The mapping session then identified which products would limit process line changeovers and which work needed to be prioritised each day.
TXM created a lean crash course program for every employee, which provided them with an understanding of lean and its benefits. Senior management undertook a week-long intensive lean masterclass on lean implementation and what it would mean for the success of the project. Every employee completed a 40-minute lean training session. Managers of all departments were brought together to demonstrate how they would contribute to the transformation.
This accelerated learning and progress of the teams allowed the company to get runs on the board fairly quickly. The Operations Manager was appointed ‘lean champion’ with other supervisors becoming ‘quasi-lean champions’ for their departments.
A communications structure and daily meetings were introduced across all departments to communicate issues and raise concerns.
Extensive visual management was introduced across all departments with daily stand-up meetings.
Improved work standards were introduced with the workload spread across teams/departments.
Each department now has its own continuous improvement (CI) board where a CI Initiative is developed each month as a means of continuing their lean journey and empowering new employees in the new culture.
The TXM support delivered outstanding business improvements:
- DIFOT (the number of orders that were delivered on time) increased from 70 to 98% within 9 months.
- Business roles were re-aligned.
- Production waste is monitored and has reduced by 50% over the last 18 months.
According to Michael D’Allura – Commercial Manager at Earlee Products: “Gary Pollard is an enthusiastic mentor who was able to take our entire company on the lean journey. He built sustainable and meaningful platforms for our team enabling a continuous improvement environment.”
Phone: 1800 319 552
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