If you are on the road as much I am, you know that there are really two seasons – winter time and, of course, construction time. One could almost liken it easily enough to our business cycles as well - full speed production and of course summer and winter shutdowns. After 100’s of thousands of miles (yes hundreds) trekking back and forth across the Province visiting Processors from so many facets of industry, I have come to appreciate my silent solidarity with those big rigs that continuously deliver every imaginable product from raw materials to finished goods in our Province, in Canada, and around the world.
With summer at hand and travelling for business (or much anticipated holidays!) heightened, I thought I might share a few thoughts from my travels relating to the importance of planning, those things unforeseen, appreciating product partners and discovering opportunities by looking at things just a little differently.
|Like a true road warrior, for me, success from a time management standpoint involves some very good planning. Those plans differ a bit depending on the time of the year. I am always armed with a GPS, hard copy maps and contact details. Those who know me well, might think I am a little overcautious and will tell you that my drive time not only includes what Google or MapQuest advises but also takes into account school buses, tractors, stray animals, emergency vehicles, tourists and in the winter snowplows and bad weather, and now - summer construction delays and re-routing.|
Some days, I feel like the proverbial mailman from the past – reaching EMC Members and Non-Members alike in all types of weather from brilliant sunshine to the whitest of whiteouts! Last week, I allowed an extra hour of drive time and despite “Bren’s Checklist” of potential issues, I certainly hadn’t anticipated crawling through a torrential downpour on the Don Valley Parkway. The road flooded in front of me literally within minutes and I felt more like a ship if you will on the high seas than a Volkswagon on pavement… waves of water spilled over the barricade from vehicles coming from the opposite direction. My windshield wipers were flipping back and forth so fast that I was sure they would inevitably fly off… they certainly weren’t doing much for the windows and they definitely wouldn’t suit as paddles either… Suffice it to say, my hands were permanently affixed to the Captains Wheel when I inevitably “floated” to my destination… and wouldn’t you know it, within a matter of moments, everything changed, the sun came out, all was fine and whatever ghastly weather issue just occurred was gone as suddenly as it appeared! (Note to self – add inclement summer weather and torrential rainstorms on the 400 series highway to the Checklist as probable and expected delays).
Business can be very much like this too – despite all the best efforts to foresee what might create a challenge for our company there will be times when something unanticipated is in front of us – we are suddenly in a “ship” of our own - and in those waves and at that time, decisions must be made to resolve whatever difficulty exists as quickly and expeditiously as possible. This could apply to anything from a food safety recall, to a breakdown on equipment to a fire that consumes our building. The ability to work with those issues and find a solution comes from having good plans in place – in doing mock recalls, preventative maintenance on equipment, staying abreast of repairs and keeping safety in mind and so forth – practice and action in this regard helps us navigate to calmer waters and respond appropriately to the crisis at hand.
Circling back to my summer travels (or standstill as I happened to be at this moment in the blistering summer heat on the 401), as much as I appreciate that planning is fundamental to our businesses, it stands to reason that it must be every bit as crucial from a trucker’s standpoint as much as a Manufacturers’. For many of them, they are delivering to companies entrenched in JIT (Just in Time) methodologies and as such, the product on their truck is timed for arrival so that the flow of work is maintained.
|When I think about the men and women who are driving those trucks – my silent highway partners – I have a considerable appreciation for their efforts to deliver our products on time everywhere picking their way through often unpredictable highway conditions because of accidents, construction, mass volume, weather elements and those occasional two-lane challenges involving slow vehicles, tractors and wildlife. Adding these dilemmas with the very nature of our food and beverage items and risk of perishability, and one can only begin to appreciate our product partners, if you will, and the sheer complexity at times of getting our goods from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.|
An interesting fact that I came across recently, did you know: “There are currently over 1 million truckloads of food and consumer packaged goods that move to, from and through the GTA each year (MTO Freight Studies 2006 and 2012).” How truly amazing! One day, while a passenger, I decided to take photos of every Food and Beverage transportation vehicle I saw - what an education!
Alas, I am waiting with multiple vehicles once again, this time at a construction site. It’s a long light and I have the honour of being first when conditions allow me to finally edge forward. This isn’t my first stop here nor will it be the last. I survey the incredible work going on before me as they resurface the road (it's much like any manufacturing process when you think about it). I believe there is something to learn here. If I think about our businesses from a construction viewpoint - whether for growth, expansion, new product development, continuous improvement, preventative maintenance and so forth - there is always bound to be a “bump” in the road. That bump may need attention and could be the very thing that allows us to be more efficient in the long run, make us take a different look at things, map a new route, speed up our capabilities. The stop sign held by the person in orange or the red light above, signals an opportunity to take some time to reflect on our plans and capabilities. We can think about the potential barriers to success, perhaps each orange pylon representing a separate issue.
|And, as we navigate around the old road and what has always been and inch into the opposite lane knowing that something better will be here the next time we travel that route, we can appreciate both the obstacles growth presents, the inherit importance of good leadership, team response, working equipment, ready raw material and ultimately the satisfied customer (driver). A good road like a good product, takes a great deal of effort, planning and commitment. The light is green and we are on the move again and my pre-planning for roadwork delays is bang on!|
|Curiousity in road construction led me to a very useful website that has an interactive map (under Ontario 511) showing where roadwork is taking place across the Province ( http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/traveller/trip/map.shtml).|
Interestingly too, the MTO celebrated 100 years in 2016 and produced a fabulous video that makes one marvel at how far we have come in transportation and in the infrastructure that supports our growth and for the most part enables all of us to receive and deliver product, for Salesmen to visit their Clients, for Service Providers to repair equipment or facilitate training, and for you and I to arrive at work safely each day. Hope you enjoy watching it as much as I did: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZEBzm7OxmU&feature=youtu.be
Having shared my summer travelling thoughts with you and with Fall ever nearing, it should come as no surprize that I have donned my own construction helmet so that we may endeavour to pave the way with fabulous learning events on issues of interest, plant tours that enable you to discover new processes and products, and of course training sessions that promote means in which to build better and more efficient roads to success in your business. Mark your calendars and please join us as we explore:
|18-Aug-17 ||Webinar: Creating a Sustainable Improvement Culture, Blommer Chocolate, Doug Harper, GM|
|13-Sep-17||Brampton: Talent Attraction and Retention with Maple Lodge Farms, Griffith Foods, CPG Executive, FBO (Food Beverage Ontario), and City of Brampton|
|25-Sep-17||Kitchener: Productivity Training – Root Cause Problem Solving/Introduction to the Kaizen Process of Implementing Change|
|26-Sep-17 ||Mississauga: Productivity Training – Leadership and Management of Change/Introduction to the Kaizen Process of Implementing Change|
|27-Sep-17||Belleville: Productivity Training – Root Cause Problem Solving/Introduction to the Kaizen Process of Implementing Change|
|28-Sep-17 ||Barrie: Root Cause Problem Solving/Leadership and Management of Change|
|29-Sep-17 ||Webinar: Productivity Training – Action Plan Development|
|18-Oct-17 ||Toronto - Conference: Food Regulatory and Quality Assurance Summit|
|26-Oct-17||Wheatley: Networking Event – Building a Healthy Workplace with Ergonomics – Best Practices and Plant Tour with John O Foods|
|09-Nov-17 ||Brampton: Forum: NSF State of the Industry|
|14-Nov-17 ||Lyn: Networking Event – Food Safety – Best Practices and Plant Tour with Burnbrae Farms|
|06-Dec-17 ||London: Networking Event – Rapid Improvement Team – Improving Efficiencies – Best Practices and Plant Tour with The Original Cakerie|
|Planning, partners, and smooth roads all leading to great topics and fabulous networking this Fall around the Province of Ontario. We look forward to welcoming you!|
Stay safe in your travels and enjoy your summer holidays!
All the best as always!
Sr. Community Development and Food and Beverage Manager
email@example.com - 519-372-6009