TXM Lean Case Study – Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses Interview

Client Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses

Location Melbourne, Australia

Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses is a major industrial bakery supplying quality cakes and pastries fresh daily to a chain of over 50 retail stores. Ferguson Plarre is a great example of application of Lean Manufacturing in the food industry.

In this video, TXM Managing Director, Tim McLean interviews Ferguson Plarre Director, Michael Plarre, about his Lean Journey and the benefits he and his business have gained, especially through their use of 5S and Leader Standard Work.

Read our Case Study on Ferguson Plarre

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TIM: Furguson Plarre is a modern industrial bakery manufacturing high quality cakes and pastries this bakery supplies a network of over 50 retail outlets with fresh products every day today we’re going to be talking to Mike Plarre. Mike is the Operations Manager at Ferguson Plarre and the fifth generation of the Plarre family to lead the business. Keep watching because Mike is going to share with us how he’s managed to successfully implement Lean in a workplace that has very little in common with the automotive factories that Lean is traditionally associated with.

TIM: To start with can you tell us a bit about the Ferguson Plarre story and what led you to implementing Lean?

MIKE: When we first began working with Lean we were introduced to TXM back at the old bakery okay it was an old outdated bakery that had three shifts running for 24 hours a day and we started to look at Lean and get a basic understanding of it but throughout that period we’re actually building the new facility so we’ve got a greenfield site here, but once we moved into the place we realized that our processes would nowhere near good enough a day to control the quality of the product and the efficiencies so that’s when we met with Tim and Anthony Clyne and the TXM guys came through inside of the teachers has that you know the basics of Lean and 5S has been fundamental to the learning within the business.

MIKE: It’s just the simple levels of ownership that are sitting with the individuals now rather than with the managers. So every individual now owns their own space in the bakery so it starts off with it with a practice of cleanliness with you know everything having its place and going back in the same place every time and we now in a position where we never have to clean the bakery for an inspection we see ourselves as industry leaders.

TIM: So, Mike what were the major changes that TXM helped you implement?

MIKE: The basic structure in the first place so the basic structure of you know of the 5s process it did time to install it took time for people to get the hang of it but once they understood 5s it made a very simple to start to roll out we set meeting protocols and set meeting agendas that touched on all the key topics of our business which is Food Safety, Occupational Health and Safety, Problem Solving, Quality Controls. Where each meeting lasts for five or ten minutes depending on the type of meeting people come into the meetings they get fully engaged with what they have to do and then they take those learnings away to their own teams where they have a five-minute team meeting.

TIM: What kind of improvements did you see in factory performance, Mike?

MIKE: We went from a from a relatively small and compact facility to this place which was roughly four times the size 10 months we started implementing Lean it just hunkered everyone down to an exact process. We had an awful lot of waste of time of people running between departments and with 65 meters from corner to corner of the business if you have to move from room to room to simply find tools equipment ingredients over a period of day you can waste you know 15 to 20 percent of your available time.

MIKE: So some of the first improvements were just locking down processes so that everything we required were at fingertips and then it was the management process of actually managing the lines ok setting time limits setting scales of efficiency against those lines so we then brought you the efficiency and the practices back into a Lean model where people came to work they had all their tools they got the job done and they’ve moved on to the next topic.

TIM: So how did you feel as those improvements started to happen Mike?

MIKE: It gave me a terrific structure to work with the team but it gave the teams exact same structure to work with their staff  so it provided an avenue of communication  which is just greatly simplified the business we’re now starting to roll out the same sort of protocol into the other areas of the business so we’re using it within our retail network now. We’re using it within our administrative network because the lines of communication are just so simple, and the bakery has never been cleaner

TIM: Business is about the bottom line so what was the overall benefits for your business?

MIKE: Look overall the place is spotless after it’s a pleasure to work in there’s a lot less noise okay so when I say noise there’s less chaos, it’s organized, it’s structured every everyone even on super busy days bas to be chaotic it’s very quiet very peaceful and that generates efficiency so we’ve got our wages we’ve dropped 10% off our wages since we’ve implemented Lean. We’ve dropped 7% off our raw materials and we halved our raw material waste by managing the waste offline so every line we’ve got a set standard which we measure against every day.

So it’s very simple for me as an owner and manager of the company to walk through each department and it’s very clear for me to see where we have wastage and why because it’s simply you see a lot of red lines on the board and you go okay there’s red lines has been an issue I should be able to follow that up on the other meeting board to go okay if I got red lines I should have a corrective action in place for that. As a management tool I can manage the business within 10 or 15 minutes of every week and

TIM: For you personally what changes has it meant?

MIKE: It’s actually allowed me to you know to leave manufacturing and to focus my attention elsewhere my job has always been 100 percent in manufacturing but over the last you know four or five years with the implementation of Lean by building all the processes within the bakery and building the levels of ownership within the staff I’ve been able to you know essentially remove myself from production and focus on the retail landscape. So now I’ve essentially replaced myself so I can move on to different tasks.

TIM: So focusing on growing the business and where the business is going.

MIKE: I’m not working in the business anymore I’m essentially working on the business and my staff although they’re working within the business they’re working on their teams in the same lines developing they’re people. They’ve got four or five and six months strategies in place to build out their team’s they need for the future so it’s heightened their scope.