Our May SIG event was hosted by Conestoga Meat Packers. Conestoga Meat Packers is a vertically integrated processor of premium quality, fresh pork. They are owned and supplied by a co-operative of 150 Southern Ontario family farmers who got into the processing business because they wanted to supply the Canadian market with the same wholesome, delicious pork their own families were enjoying.
Our May SIG event was hosted by Conestoga Meat Packers. Conestoga Meat Packers is a vertically integrated processor of premium quality, fresh pork. Based in Southwestern Ontario Canada, they supply the Canadian market with wholesome, delicious pork since 1982. They are owned and supplied by a co-operative of 150 Southern Ontario family farmers who got into the processing business because they wanted to supply the Canadian market with the same wholesome, delicious pork their own families were enjoying. Check them out on the web at http://www.conestogameats.com/
Senior Manager's Session:
During this session we had a great overview of the history; goals and challenges faced by Conestoga Meat Packers. They currently process 15 000 hogs a week through their facility. In 2001 they were processing 3000 hogs a week. Their production is split into the kill and cut on the day shift and the 'value added' such as the restaurant cut ribs on the second shift. They have an employee base of 350 employees and export approximately 20% of their product. On each of their lines in the plant they post the KPIs for all employees to see and the focus is on yield and efficiency. They use all parts of the hog but the cost they receive for their final product varies so it is important to get maximum value for each hog. They also share information with all employees regarding the company in a report called the Porkress Report.
Continuous Improvement: Packaging Challenge
For the past three years Conestoga Meat Packers has developed their Continuous improvement program. They have had varying degrees of success with events but overall have been received well by staff and management. They use the Kaizen approach and adapted the philosophies to suit processes and time constraints. Currently they use mini-kaizens (1 to 3 day events).
One challenge that has been a struggle for them (even before kaizen initiatives) has been torn box liners. All bulk packed product is to go into a poly lined carton that will either be sold fresh or frozen domestically or for export. Due to space constraints, boxes with liners inserted are made on the second floor and sent to production on the cut floor via a chute. As a result the liners are tearing at several points. One of the additional challenges is that the staff can not touch the box and then touch the meat without changing gloves first.
The group had a great tour of the facility with a focus on watching the bag making and packing process. They came up with some great solutions to the challenge including:
- Bigger bag - issue bag falls out
- New liner design - slits in sides of liner; as per demonstration in SIG
- Longer bag with adhesive in bottom of bag
- Greater rounded corner on box
- Involve box and bag supplier at same meeting to work through solution
- Notch (like swiffer) inside box to put bag into it
- Wax box to eliminate the need for the bags
- One long side on bag so that it just flaps over (3 short sides, 1 long side)
Shortly after the SIG, the group at Conestoga Meat Packers was meeting with their box and plastic liner supplier for a solution to the problem. We look forward to hearing which of the groups suggestions worked.
Health and Safety: Keeping your H&S Committee going
This SIG focused on strategies on how you keep your H&S committee motivated and involved. Many companies find that one of the biggest struggles is time. Others find that the individuals on the committee don't feel they have the authority to do what they want. Some of the questions we discussed were:
- How do you allocate time for the H&S inspection? Who does the inspection? Does this change every month?
- What do you feel you do really well to make your H&S Committee effective?
- How much time do you give your H&S committee outside of inspections/meetings to focus on Health and Safety?
- How do other companies cope with a tighter workforce and still maintain an active and visible JHSC?
Some of the suggestions from the group were:
- Having summer students on your H&S committee
- Giving employees an obligations letter/contract to sign when they join the committee
- Involving management in plant inspections
Human Resources: Orientation Programs
This SIG focused on orientation and what strategies you use to integrate new employees into the organization, prepare them to succeed at their job, and to become fully productive members of the organization.
Some questions we discussed included:
- Who is in charge of new employee's orientation?
- What is your orientation plan? Does it vary depending on if it is an office or plant employee?
- What struggles do you have regarding your orientation program?
- Do you involve your Sr. Management in your orientation of new employees?
Some of the suggestions made were:
- Having a mentor/buddy/trainer for the first 2 weeks to help employee with any questions (i.e. policy on washroom breaks, where is the lunch room)
- Some companies give additional training for those workers classified as belonging to the vulnerable sector (i.e. focus on their rights; right to refuse work; safety video)
- Struggle is to take orientation beyond the information you provide employees with on the first day or week of work and get them to feel part of the team and understand the culture
For more information on EMC's food sector initiatives, please contact Bren deLeeuw at (519) 372-6009 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.