Investment in automation is paying significant dividends at Holmesterne Foods as improvements to manufacturing processes are made to a vital line at the company’s Brompton-on Swale No1 site.
Holmesterne’s ‘Pigs in Blankets’ business has developed significantly over the past 18 months with the company supplying principally to Hot Counter customers. With demand consistently outweighing production capacity a series of changes have now been implemented which are impacting on a number of key fronts.
The old process was constrained by many factors including off line bacon slicing. In addition, teams of operatives were required to hand roll the pigs and to pack the finished product, which could involve up to 32 people per line per shift.
The new process has seen the addition of an inline bacon slicer to a re-reorganised and semi automated rolling line with a new packing and sealing line to complete the upgrade.
Semi automation of the line has completely transformed the production process improving manufacturing speed, product quality and consistency, and reducing waste by over 30%. The inline working also keeps the product at the correct temperature and results in a just in time working method. The new bacon slicer controls product weight and reduces giveaway.
The principal benefit to the company is the doubled manufacturing capacity that enables Holmesterne to respond to demand and service new customers whilst also controlling labour costs and increasing efficiencies.
Commenting, Head of Operations Shaun Bedford said:
“This is an important growth market for Holmesterne and it was vital to introduce a degree of automation to deliver results for our customers. Holmesterne is a quality led business and these changes have resulted in further improvements to our high quality standards. With less handling involved and the increased speed of the whole process, from the slicing of the bacon to the wrapping and packing, it means that we maintain our stance of ‘quality is key’.
We have involved the production and technical teams at every stage as we began a transparent review of machine throughputs and capacities on the pigs line. Following the changes we implemented a training programme for the operatives on the line who now have a clear understanding of the aims and objectives of the business and the need for agility and speed of response. Implementing a new labour footprint has increased our yields and reduced our overheads”.