Weetabix is investing £16M in UK processing this year and rolling out a lean production programme across its factories after trialling it at Burton Latimer in Northamptonshire.
"We will spend £16M of capital in 2012," said head of manufacturing Mike Parsons. "What we are looking to do is replace processes across the entire Weetabix estate."
Parsons joined 18 months ago from Heinz, having been involved in its continuous improvement (CI) roll-out. He hired lean consultancy Lauras International to analyse performance and advise on areas at Weetabix that could be enhanced. The results of this helped the firm win the Company of the Year title at Food Manufacture's 2011 Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards.
Weetabix has dubbed its CI process 'Performance Through People' and is rolling that out now. Building on that, it has teamed up with Competitive Capabilities International, a global operations and manufacturing management consultancy, to implement its TRACC CI system at all its sites. The system covers most of the underpinning practices required to operate a manufacturing unit, from environmental operations to asset care. A multi-disciplined team of operations engineers assess the current state against a staged model of best practice and then formulate an improvement plan.
11 manufacturing units
Weetabix, whose brands include Alpen, Weetabix and Oatibix, has eight plants in Burton Latimer, two in Corby, Northamptonshire, and one at Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside. "We complete the first initiation phase at the end of February, when these 11 manufacturing units will have gone live," said Parsons. "We are seeing benefits already. Overall equipment effectiveness is lifting."
Initial progress at the Burton Latimer Weetabix Minis plant has raised output by 25%. The Minis team is targeting a further 15% rise there in 2012, enabled by their Performance Through People plan.