Outsourcing engineering services is a growing trend in the baking, snack and overall food industries. At one time, large engineering departments capable of all facets of design, construction and operation of a plant were commonplace. Some companies even designed and manufactured their own equipment. This has changed, and today large, multidiscipline, in-house engineering groups have been phased out and replaced with individuals focused on core competencies: product formulation, SKUs and new markets. Additionally, staff downsizing and retirements have left some companies without the corporate engineering capabilities they once depended upon to oversee the design and optimization of their facilities.
As a result, baking and snack product companies have recognized the opportunity to partner with multidiscipline engineering firms that can fill their gaps in facility design, process and packaging — the disciplines that they no longer have on staff.
Leveraging the unique skills and resources of another organization to strengthen your company is one of the best ways to optimize operational performance. It is not necessary to own all of the engineering disciplines and services required to run your business; you simply need to be able to access those resources as needed.
For many years, the idea of outsourcing engineering services and project management was seen as a threat to a food manufacturer’s engineering and project management teams. Today, the benefits far outweigh any perceived threats:
- Knowledge transfer opens up
- Safety is optimized
- Products get to markets faster
- Return on investment is improved.
Outsourcing Check List (what you should expect from an outsourcing relationship)
- Is capable of providing a broad breadth of engineering disciplines
- Has process, packaging and automation expertise (hands-on experience)
- Understands and can define work scopes
- Can identify and manage risk
- Provides seamless integration of service provider, client’s team and key vendors/subcontractors
- Has safety, hygiene and security experience
- Supports regulatory compliance (security, HACCP, SSOP, SPS, GFSI and FSMA)
- Has sustainability and LEED experience
- Demonstrates Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing experience
- Is capable of qualifying and selecting construction services on behalf of the client
- Provides site management, construction management, commissioning, startup and verification services
- Understands and is capable of driving value and innovation
- Becomes an extension of the client’s facility and engineering team.
Management and Relationships
Managing the outsourcing relationship is of critical importance. A successful relationship must be defined, managed and properly led. A level of transparency should fall into place, goals of both parties should be recognized and a means to monitor and measure the success should be established. Seldom are the business objectives of one party that much different from the other’s: both parties are looking to optimize the relationship, manage costs, drive revenues and return value to their shareholders. An outsourcing service provider should be expected to meet or exceed the client’s expectations within a cost structure that would be difficult for them to obtain within their own organization.
This story is sponsored by POWER Engineers, which has one of the most comprehensive teams of engineers and specialists serving the baking and snack industry. As an extension of its clients' engineering teams, the company provides program management, integrated solutions and full facility design for the baking and snack industry. Learn more at www.powereng.com/food.