Food Engineering

Productivity improvements may be somewhere over the rainbow

June 1, 2005


Joyce Fassl
Whether you call it lean manufacturing, getting more bang for the buck, increased productivity or doing more with less, it doesn't really matter. What matters to food and beverage manufacturers is getting quality product out the door quickly and cost-effectively.



Plant floor work can be monotonous. Even simple changes, from comfortable chairs or rails for plant workers to lean on to colorful belts to enhance visuals, can make a huge difference in productivity.

According to Scott Sechler, CEO of the Bell & Evans poultry processing plant (Food Engineering's 2005 Plant of the Year award winner), production workers' eyes can get very tired looking at chicken on white belts all day long. Sechler introduced blue conveyor belts to ease tired eyes, but he got a few added advantages: one is that his workers can see the product much better on the blue background. Sechler anticipates that the addition of worker-friendly ideas with recent automation updates will increase yields in some areas of his plant by 30 percent (see page 79).

Color can also be used to enhance food safety. And anything that enhances food safety enhances productivity. Using color can minimize the potential for contamination, dispose of waste and make cleaning more efficient. Cleaning supplies can also be color-coded to make the job simple and easy for plant workers.

In a recent study conducted by the Business Committee for the Arts (BCA), researchers established a positive relationship between on-the-job productivity and the presence of art in the workplace. Does the way your employees perceive their physical work environment have an impact on their job performance? You bet your break room it does, says BCA.

Along with productivity, the study addressed other human factors including stress, morale and creativity. The survey polled employees from a variety of companies across industry lines, and overwhelmingly concluded that art in the workplace helps combat stress; improves employee morale; heightens creativity; improves productivity; encourages expression and creativity; and encourages diversity appreciation.

While I am not suggesting a Jackson Pollock at every plant, a little color may go a long way to boost productivity.



Food Engineering Editorial Advisory Board

David Watson
Vice President, Engineering
Pepperidge Farm, Inc.

Kevin Mellor
Director, Processing Center of Excellence
ConAgra

John Eberle
Innovation Group Manager
Frito-Lay

Dave Plinski
Director, Dairy Foods Eningeering
Land O' Lakes

Dave Gemellaro
Director, Sector Engineering
Kraft Foods

Peter Migchels
Director of Engineering, Fresh Bakeries
Maple Leaf Foods

Tom Wolters
Senior Manager Technology
Pepsico Beverages & Food

Carl Krueger
Senior Manager, Global Engineering Services
H.J. Heinz