Since Utz Brands embarked on its continuous improvement program a dozen years ago, the Hanover, Pa.-based snack producer hasn’t looked back.
“At one point 12 years ago, there was one person in the entire company dedicated to continuous improvement,” recalled Tucker Lawrence, the company’s executive vice president and chief supply chain officer. “Now we have a team of 10 people that are solely focused on it.”
Overall, he said, continuous improvement contains three integrated pillars. First, it’s about the people and the process, specifically training longtime employees on lean manufacturing and the principles of Six Sigma. The next pillar involves equipment performance and reliability from a reactive maintenance approach to a preventative one. The final part ties quality and food safety to the total production maintenance approach and Safe Quality Food certification.
“We’re creating consistency from one batch to another, one production line to another and one plant to another,” Mr. Lawrence said. “You’re never done with continuous improvement, and there’s always opportunity out there.”
Specifically, the company’s plants rely on Redzone, a manufacturing execution system that provides real-time performance data by measuring key performance indicators such as downtime, production rates, flavor consistency and other factors to enhance efficiency and identify the root cause of operational issues. He said the next continuous improvement step will be implementing its reliability model that measures equipment performance metrics to help determine why a certain machine has so many work orders or needs additional replacement parts.
Through continuous improvement bakeries and snack producers can control costs better while offering consumers higher quality, consistent products.