The food and drink sector has maintained its leading position in manufacturing during recent financial challenges and is generally proving resilient in terms of overall employment, turnover and value added. The industry is extremely competitive both within the UK and internationally with frequent mergers, divestments and private equity activities.

Productivity performance in the food and drink sector has been below manufacturing averages however the challenge posed by the purchasing power of the industry’s main customers drives a continuous need to improve both to reduce costs and boost added value. Innovation has been an increasingly important factor in driving up value added, particularly through technical advances. In recent times assuring product quality and reducing the levels of waste in processes have been key drivers for improvement across the sector.

Industry Forum’s food & drink business consultants have been coaching food and drink sector companies to improve efficiency and profitability since 1999, driving improvement activities impacting on safety, quality, cost and delivery performance. When the UK government launched the roll-out of our successful automotive activities to other sectors, through their Adaptor programme, Industry Forum provided the process improvement expertise to the sectors managed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Activity areas facilitated have included:

  • Dairy UK
  • Cereals Industry Forum
  • Fresh Produce Industry Forum
  • Red Meat Industry Forum

The Sector Performance Standards in Food Manufacturing Excellence have been developed by the Food and Drink Sector Skills Council (Improve) and were launched in 2009. Industry Forum works with Improve, through the National Skills Academy Food and Drink as a specialist training provider.

Examples of techniques successfully deployed in client organisations by our food & drink business consultants include:

  • Developing business policy deployment systems to ensure all improvement activities within the organisation support overall strategic objectives.
  • Implementing robust data collection and analysis systems to identify business improvement opportunities relating to Safety, Quality, Cost, Delivery, Environment and Manpower (SQCDEM).
  • Driving daily management processes enabling first line leadership to control their processes, implementing local level problem solving and improvement.
  • Developing the capability and autonomous ownership of workplace teams to identify and implement improvement opportunities using core Lean improvement tools such as waste elimination, workplace organisation, standardisation and visual management.
  • Application of robust problem solving methodologies to improve quality and prevent defect re-occurrence both internally and at customers.
  • Value stream mapping techniques to re-design the production process in order to identify and eliminate causes of in process waste and supply chain material loss
  • Optimisation of product changeovers and adjustments to reduce start-up and shut-down efficiency losses and increase flexibility to manufacture in smaller batch sizes.
  • The implementation of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) methods to drive improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness and reducing manufacturing costs per unit.

The process to deliver these techniques is a collaborative one implemented through Industry Forum’s proven ‘Learn by Doing’ approach. The client’s team are initially led by IF Engineers through training and hands-on application of lean techniques through a series of workshops. They are then coached and mentored as they replicate the activities across their facility, leading their people in turn. This cascades the ‘know-how’ for delivering lean systems, grows ownership and embeds sustainability within the organisation.

To find out more about how Industry Forum food & drink business consultants are successfully working in the Food and Drink Sector please contact Simon Carr, General Manager: