A lot is being written about “Product Quality” and “Manufacturing Quality” and I am not sure if many of the article writers know what they are talking about – of if they are just trying to put marketing spin to cover up a lack of substance.
We work to the highest standards – but we are not just saying so, we can prove it – and we have been doing so for longer than most. We drive standards and are driven to implement improvements. We can prove this as we are externally audited to ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 (Food Safety). What this means is people with extensive industry knowledge check what we are doing and how we are doing it to make sure and sign off that we are achieving high standards – and on a daily basis.
We are then audited by Customers who place their own demands on us – to improve quality.
We undertake regular reviews of how we work and how we can improve this.
We employ external consultants to audit us every fortnight and advise us on what to focus on next. This involves the management team as well as factory staff. Food safety is regularly reviewed by all key staff in the factory.
We have validated procedures for all processes.
We provide a Professional dedicated blending service for companies who value the control and assurance our facility and processes give them in making Professionally produced, high quality products every time.
In August 2012 we installed a new, high speed, blender to improve production efficiency – this allows us to blend 750kg in 90 seconds.
This sounds impressive, but the main benefit is to improve product quality. We cannot pack product in 90 seconds, so it gives us plenty of time to QC product and to keep the blender ahead of production. It keeps our blending efficiencies to where they need to be.
For the last 2 months we have been extraordinarily busy and the new blender has made the process of meeting customers’ requirements much easier.
In installing this we were running short on factory space, so expanded into the next unit. This increased our space by another third. Another unit became available later in the year, and having been short of space for too long, took this on also.
The industry continues to be exciting but driven by innovation and quality – where we excel.
I feel guilty at not writing more on the blog recently. But other needs have been more pressing.
Obtaining ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 in August last year took a lot of time. Most procedures were in place and we did not alter much paperwork but some of the reporting systems – minuting all meetings and showing we had Verified and Validated all processes took a lot of concentration. For me, this was an essential tool for us to move forward and grow. Now everything we do is clearly documented – using a computer based system – so if anyone is not sure what to do, all they need to do is look. This releases my time to looking at new ideas.
We also built some new offices in August 2011 which we moved into in February 2012. Although this was meant to be a turn key operation, it took a lot of management time to get it right. The old offices were really a single room which we had outgrown. We needed to allow room for growth and we had a space in unit 3a to build them. We are finding them much easier to work in and now have a dedicated development area for out New Product Development and innovation. This is now nearly fully manned.
Our final, for now, investment in the offices in an upgraded computer software system to cope with manufacturing and production planning. This is nearly ready to go live.
The old office is now a good staff canteen – which has improved staff morale – and the old canteen is a wash-room for the factory – taking all water out of the factory.
Our focus is now on improvements to the manufacturing plant which I hope to report when I next write.
The market continues to grow while at the same time changing. A vast amount of production is now in bags – obviously for saving the environment while also saving costs. But demand for tubs is also strong. We worked with Bob at Taylor Davis on a PET tub range, which is going well. As the market grows in the UK so does opportunities for innovative manufacturing. We still believe we lead the industry in innovation in products and manufacturing efficiency which enables is to keep our costs down.
Whey supply seems to be easing but the price is still strong. We do make some straight whey, but also a lot of blends. With new sources of Whey Protein Concentrate 80 from WheyCo, Arla and First Milk, this may help. We maintain good relations with key suppliers. But innovation is still key for the industry. We look forward to cautious growth going forward.
I have not written since about a year ago and though an update was in order. 2009 has been unexpectedly busy although times now are probably as uncertain as they were last year. So far, through the recession, we have seen protein prices fall. This is expected to change dramatically. We have had increases in the last month which I expect may continue into 2009 if the £ does not recover. I suspect that January will see the political interfering in the economy come to an abrupt end, now that the December 2009 figures have been massaged to make the economy look good for the General Election.
We are still putting in long hours to launch new projects and keep the factory running smoothly. Keeping the factory ahead of what is required in the food industry is a challenge. We have bought a new blender this year, a new metal detector, sifters and powder transfer equipment. We have updated our working practices at least twice, revisited staff training and completely re-audited the health and safety aspects of the factory. We decided that keeping ahead is better than trying to keep up! This trouble is keeping ahead of moving goal-posts.
New Product Development is still a challenge as we try to meet our customer’s needs while running the factory.
We continue to progress well , even if things are a little hectic. We have looked at in mould labelling the Jokey Buckets with Bob. This is very exciting and not that expensive if the volumes are there. It will be necessary to add a small flavour sticker, but for a full integral label, this is a small price to pay.
We moved into the office last weekend and are gradually getting more tidy. This is the 3rd Move since November and I feel really settled (although we are still waiting for some Desk parts from Furniture at Work which were ordered last November too.) We are getting everything as we want it and I am working better again. It has been hard running the business and building while in a temporary office.
We had a major quality Audit last week which went well and gave us a chance to test our new procedures and factory layout. It went really well and we are really proud of the quality of the factory we now have.
Response times are still a little slower than I would like but I am still running the factory as well as responding to enquiries, sorting procedures, personnel and HSE requirements. I find work goes better when the staff have gone home! Lucas spent last night reading fork lift procedures and decided to test the truck this morning and lifted the roller shutter door off its hinges! He was mortified but we fixed it later.
A clock card machine arrived today to help record attendance. It is fitted if not yet working fully. It will link to the computer and the payroll – I am sure it will be great when it is working!
After 6 months the council gave us a new address this week – Harrison Court – which helps as there were other 3, Hilton Business Park addresses and likely to be more in the future. Harrison Court is named after Chris Harrison who worked for Rolls Royce developing Merlin engines in the War and then joined hte RAF to fly Mosquitoes. He now lives in Australia. We now hope to get a postcode in the next 6 weeks!
The web site seems to be working well and appreciate any feedback about what you would like to see.