Me and my factory

Coca-Cola site boss: ‘How I plan to lift efficiency’

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Coca-Cola's Trevor Newman explains his plans to boost efficiency at the Wakefield site
Coca-Cola's Trevor Newman explains his plans to boost efficiency at the Wakefield site

Related tags: Polyethylene terephthalate

Coca-Cola's Trevor Newman tells Noli Dinkovski he is intent on optimising efficiency at the huge Wakefield site.

This is the biggest soft drinks plant in Europe. To give you an idea of its scale, it covers an area bigger than 15 football pitches, and is responsible for around 40% of Coca-Cola European Partners’ (CCEP’s) UK volume – something I’m often reminded about when things go wrong!

I have been in this job since January, but have been at CCEP [formerly Coca-Cola Enterprises] for 11 years, following roles at Nissan Motor Manufacturing and then Carlsberg Group, where I was a distributions operations manager.

In my time at CCEP, I have had seven different roles and five promotions. That is one of the best things about this company – if you push yourself forward, there really is a great opportunity and encouragement to progress.

My first position was as production manager at our Edmonton site in north London. While there, I used a line monitoring system called LineView, which I still use to this day. A system is only as good as the routines you implement around it, and at Edmonton we got those routines down to a very high standard.

From the short interval control process, to the management reports that come out of the back end of it, things ran very well.

I was then asked to implement LineView across a number of sites, as part of a three-year project. That experience taught me an incredible amount. It made me realise how to be much more influencing and much more understanding of people, because each factory had its own culture, and way of doing things.

When that project came to an end, I was given the supply chain operations director job at Sidcup – which was a fantastic opportunity – before moving onto Wakefield, running what should be the flagship site in the group.

I would say the main challenge here is that distribution is as big as manufacturing. It’s nice to go back to doing what I did when I started out – but this is on a different scale. Each day, 300 lorries pick up finished product alone, so there is a constant flow of vehicles coming in and out.

2,000 cans per minute (Back to top​)

We’ve got three canning lines, which all run at 2,000 cans per minute. They all have relatively new equipment on the front end, but the packaging end of two of the lines will need an upgrade soon. With cans increasingly becoming lighter, you need to have state-of-the-art equipment to handle them correctly, otherwise problems occur.


  • Name: Trevor Newman
  • Age: 42
  • Domestics: Married, with a boy and a girl.
  • Outside work: Cycling, and a passion for barbecuing
  • Greatest achievement: Being given the opportunity to run the Wakefield site. That, and winning the Best Household and General Products Plant Award at the 2014 Best Factory Awards while at the Sidcup site.
  • ADVICE to younger self: To be successful, you have to work hard. All people who are successful are grafters. Put the effort in, and you can achieve whatever you want.

Our two new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) lines are capable of running 840 one-to-three litre bottles per minute, while our 500ml bottle line is flat out all the time. We also have an older PET line, which does most of our three-litre product, and runs only two or three days a week.

Our new repack line is a £3M investment installed this year – and part of a £62M investment into the site over a five-year period. It’s a great machine, because it is able to take four product packs and consolidate them into a smaller pallet in a display unit, which is ideal for convenience stores with limited floor space.

My number one priority within this plant is to make sure that our staff go home with the same number of arms and legs that they came to work with. Safety is paramount and we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve just gone past three years without a single lost-time accident.

There are always ways to improve safety, so we always hold monthly meetings. They involve a mixture of people who are passionate about safety on the shop floor, union stewards, senior management and the safety manager.

The second priority is to drive costs down. Ian Johnson, who ran the plant before me, was always determined to never miss his flat cost-per-case target, and that remains in place.

By nature of our size and the economies of scale, we have to be the cheapest in the group. Therefore, I’m determined to drive plant efficiency hard. Overall equipment effectiveness for productivity is running at 60%, and mechanical efficiency is 74%. We need to get productivity up over 70% and mechanical efficiency over 80% – so that’s the journey that we’re going on.

For me, it’s incredible what you can do with the right people. For the management team who report directly to me, I use insight profiling and hold monthly one-to-ones.

Highest engagement score (Back to top​)

We also have weekly team meetings, which are vital as I think they make people 30% more productive. When I left Sidcup, we had the highest engagement score at any of our sites, rising from 64% to 89% in three years.

It’s nice to run activities like staff barbecues and evenings out, but the main priority for me is that people are clear in their roles.

Whether you are an operations director, or a fork-lift driver, clarity is vital. You need to know what’s expected of you. And once you’re clear with that, the second step is having the tools and resources to do the job.

Thirdly, recognition matters. We do the nice stuff, like an ‘icon of the month’ award, but the informal recognition is just as important. It would be very easy for me to walk out onto the shop floor and find problems, but what’s really important at the same time is to go and find someone else who is doing things really well, and praise them.

Once people know their roles, it becomes easier to identify problems when they occur. It’s not good when my boss asks me why we missed our cost per case, and I don’t know.

All of my team have a lag scorecard and a leading indicator scorecard. And with that, comes accountability. When they present their scorecards, we can see areas that are performing well, and those that aren’t.

So, for example, if there’s issue with output, we can move it down to production line level. And if six of the lines have green scores, while one of them is running below full efficiency, we can then drill it down to that line manager, who may be able to identify the problem to the fact he is training someone new on that line, for example.

Fundamentally, the first part of my plan here is getting those basics in place that weren’t necessarily there when I took over.

Once you get those routines and procedures in place, you start to win the battle. At that point, I can start to think about the more strategic moves to improve the business.

Optimising our stockholding and storage space is one area I want to look at. But right now, my main concern to help our staff believe they are capable of achieving great things. It’s a simple philosophy, but one that seems to work.

Find out more about how the supply chain operations director incentivises staff to overcome logistical challenges in this exclusive online video​.

Factory Facts

  • Location: Wakefield, West Yorkshire
  • Size: 75,000m2
  • Staff: 450
  • Main products: Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta and Schweppes.
  • Customers: Retailers, wholesalers, licensed trade and foodservice.
  • Eight four polyethylene terephthalate (PET) lines, 
  • Three canning lines and a repack line plus two pre-form injection lines.
  • Up to 6,000 cans of soft drink per minute
  • Up to 2,200 PET bottles every minute. 
  • Total factory output: In excess of 100M cases a year.

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