Case Study - Improving Operational Processes for Food Manufacturer

  • 29 April 2015
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The scenario

Britain’s biggest food manufacturer wanted a centre for warehousing best practice at one of their 60 UK sites. The site was set up as a benchmark within the company for the definition and delivery of the highest possible standards of working practice.

WBS were already managing a large building programme to extend one of the client’s distribution centres and as a result also worked with the client to change the operational model and product flow to ensure successful integration of two new warehouses on the site. 

The opportunity was taken to use the construction programme as a vehicle to formalise best practice through the introduction of work instructions for operators and team leaders and through coaching of the site management team.

The Programme

A 6-month programme was identified comprising the following main activities:
  • Agree and map existing operational processes
  • Identify, agree and map new operational processes
  • Write a full set of work instructions for operators (fork lift drivers)
  • Write a full set of work instructions for team leaders
  • Identify, interview and train 7 operators to become in-house trainers
  • Manage the initial roll-out of training and ensure training quality
  • Provide one-to-one and team coaching sessions for the site management team
  • Hand over all work instruction templates and training records to the client

The Mechanism

Making changes that lead to sustainable improvements requires a consultative approach involving everyone affected by the process, in every area of the organisation.

To establish and agree the operational processes and to write and agree the content of the work instructions WBS established a project team consisting of consultants and representatives from management, the team leader group and the fork lift drivers.

Most activities at the distribution centre were carried out in a very individualistic way and the challenge for the project team was to establish the best and safest practice for all activities rather than just document one of the various ways in which things were done.

During a series of constructive workshops and meetings all current operational processes were challenged and agreed. The output from these workshops was a full set of work instructions explaining the activities of each process in a pictures and brief bullet points style.

As the operators can be assigned to work at different distribution centres in the region, approximately 250 people needed training on the Operator Work Instructions and approximately 30 people were to receive training on the Team Leader Work Instructions. Management and Team Leaders also received training on the Operator Work Instructions to ensure that they were able to explain the instructions and support the operators on an ongoing basis.

To achieve a training programme of this magnitude WBS advertised within the regional distribution centres for people who wanted to become in-house trainers. Following interviews 7 individuals were identified and taken through the WBS Train the Trainer course in which they learned the techniques of delivering training.

WBS furthermore trained each trainer on the content of all work instructions to ensure the message was understood. The WBS trainer sat in on a number of training sessions with each trainer (both day and night shift) and gave feed back to the trainer after the session.

A coaching programme was agreed for the site management team. Through individual coaching sessions and team sessions the management team identified both their individual and team strengths and development needs. The team also agreed their team roles and identified their individual levels of duty and authority. New and improved ways of communication were also agreed and rehearsed.

The Benefits

  • Complete set of work instructions for the site
  • Work instructions ready for new starters and temporary staff
  • Training matrix developed for the site
  • 180 people trained
  • 7 people developed into in-house trainers
  • Workforce enthusiasm
  • Employee involvement in achieving processes and work instructions
  • Clarity on management roles, duties and levels of authority
  • Improved communication within the management team
  • Significantly improved levels of confidence within the management team

The Next Steps

Following a handover the client completed the training programme.
The client will roll out similar work instructions to the other distribution centres based on the
experiences from the first centre.

The management team received individual progress review sessions which included tools
and techniques to maintain the momentum during organisational changes.


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