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You know, it’s often the simplest things that make the biggest impact. One of those seemingly simple things is to have an outsider come in and look at the way we do things to make us aware of overcomplications or mistakes that we’ve introduced and been too close to see for ourselves. I say seemingly, because it’s not as simple as it sounds! You have to know where to find someone who understands your specialty, as well as your target market, the outside factors that influence how you work. And it’s good if that outsider knows how others in your industry work so that they can share those good ideas with you. Your own research of trade journals and the information from global consulting firms can provide some insights about what’s happening out there, but what then? You might have a better sense of where you want to be, but you need a clear sense of where you are, first.

After the food and beverage industry suffering from a flat performance in recent history, McKinsey recently reported an accelerating resurgence, but that only a few big names in the sector are claiming the majority of the market share. Increasing living standards, and growing desires for health foods and convenience foods, are opening up market opportunities across the sector. Smaller businesses, though, are struggling to respond to those market opportunities when facing technical and process challenges that end up costing time and money. That’s where outside perspective can be particularly useful. Fresh eyes to look for efficiencies in operations that recover losses of production time and ingredients, producing cost savings that can be redeployed on those new market opportunities.

In the work we do most often, it’s equipment changeovers that cause the most disruption to production. Multiple products on single plants, or even single lines for example, can demand cleaning overheads between runs that result in excess waste. It’s also common for small food producers to run a hybrid process that includes batch-oriented operations, like the production of large-volume soups and sauces, with the single-piece flows that packaging into cans and boxes involves. It’s not uncommon to encounter the kind of frequency of spills that lead to waste and safety concerns.

An outside perspective can bring an understanding of the behaviours and processes that lead to these poor outcomes, and engage with the staff to develop new and better ways of working with scheduling and sequences to minimise cleaning and downtime. Even just measuring the amount of waste generated on a daily basis can be eye-opening. After all, it’s hard to manage what we aren’t aware of. Learn more about your own production line today.