Q&A: Food Manufacturing & Safety Forum

The Food Manufacturing & Safety Forum will be held Jan. 31-Feb. 1, in San Diego, Calif. Food Manufacturing spoke with Kevin Duffy of Kepner-Tregoe, who will speak at the forum regarding new technologies for manufacturing and packaging lines, about some of the trends attendees can expect at this year’s forum.

Q: What trends are you expecting to see at this year’s forum?

A: I’m expecting to see two interesting trends at this year’s forum. On the manufacturing side, given the inflationary costs driven by energy and fuel prices, there will be a continuing pressure on organizations to drive efficiencies and reduce operational costs, deferring the need for additional capital as the economy improves. In the recent past, globalization of the food and drink industry has led to a rising number of international recalls and outbreaks as the food supply chain grows longer and longer. In addition, there are ongoing concerns of the possibility of bioterrorism and chemical terrorism that will have an increasing impact on food safety on a global scale. The challenge of meeting the increasingly stringent FDA standards and compliance for process integrity is another trend I expect to see this year.

Q: How do you see these trends impacting the way food manufacturers do business?

A: These trends may force food manufacturers to make difficult strategic decisions regarding sourcing, distribution methods and compliance. For example, with the rising cost of energy and fuel prices, organizations will need to reevaluate alternate energy sources or the ways in which their products are distributed in order to remain profitable.  Companies will also need to continue to educate their employees and advance their manufacturing processes in order to meet the stringent FDA standards. This may force companies to find alternate sourcing opportunities if the organization’s supply chain partners nationally or internationally fail to consistently comply with safety standards.

Q: Briefly discuss operational excellence practices and how they affect manufacturing success.

A: In today’s world of operational excellence (OE) there are a broad number of initiatives an organization can undertake to improve performance. The selection of key OE initiatives is a critical factor as organizations only have limited resources to run the daily operational activities and implement OE programs effectively. Too often, we see organizations engage in initiative overload and run multiple OE programs in parallel, and as a result people burn out and programs do not achieve the promised potential. The most successful organizations focus on tightly defined areas for OE which are linked to the needs of the corporate strategy and business plans.

Q: How can food manufacturers improve their operational excellence practices?

A: Organizations tend to improve their OE practices with quick fixes and oftentimes neglect the basics of daily management, which can go a long way in improving OE practices. In order to get back to the basics, manufacturers should seek to build a foundation of organization capability and manufacturing discipline that can respond to the challenge of excellence. The deployment of technical knowledge, problem-solving and decision-making competence combined with improvements to variation reduction, equipment reliability and production scheduling will help manufacturers achieve improved OE results.

Q: What should food manufacturers do to determine current overall equipment effectiveness?

A: In order to determine overall equipment effectiveness, food manufacturers will need to first determine the asset that is the capacity design bottleneck (filler, former, etc).  Next, multiply it by the run hours and speed to achieve the gross theoretical and then divide that number by the actual in order to get an overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) performance for the asset.

Q: How can manufacturers improve equipment effectiveness in their facilities?

A: Manufacturers can take several steps toward improving equipment effectiveness in their facilities. They will need to develop a detailed understanding of the losses they have in each of the key drivers of OEE – speed, uptime and waste. Next, they should focus on a few critical projects against which progress can be measured and monitored. Oftentimes organizations focus on too many projects at once, which dilutes the completion rate, affecting OEE. Project selection should be graded against very specific criteria which will meet the current needs of the business that is driven by market conditions and demand.

Kevin Duffy is responsible for the global Kepner-Tregoe Industrial Products practice. He leads a global industry team in consulting with clients in North America, Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia, specializing in the areas of accelerated asset improvement, structural cost reduction, and manufacturing excellence. During his 20 years in the manufacturing industry, he has held positions ranging from production engineer to vice president of manufacturing/ general manager in the packaging, hygiene product, converting and building product sectors.

Kevin will be speaking at the Food Manufacturing & Safety Forum on the topic of investing in new technologies and high-speed automation for manufacturing and packaging lines. The Food Manufacturing & Safety Forum will be held Jan. 31-Feb. 1, in San Diego, Calif.

Interview By Lindsey Coblentz, Associate Editor