What is a group of red meat processors doing at an engineering works?
All was revealed when a group of processors who are working with
the RMIF (Red Meat Industry Forum) to improve their business practices
attended a day's workshop at Dutton Engineering in Sandy, Bedfordshire.
Staff at the RMIF have been working with small and medium sized
companies to help them assess how they can improve their businesses
and save money - in some instances, literally tens of thousands of
The visit to Dutton Engineering gave them the chance to see a world-class
business. And it was a real eye-opener!
Dutton Engineering have been using 'lean' thinking in their manufacturing
processes for the past sixteen years. Pioneered by boss, Ken Lewis,
they have taken a radical and often very challenging look at how
they do business and how to make it more profitable - often turning
conventional thinking on its head.
Many of the improvement initiatives adopted at Dutton Engineering
have been, and still are, driven forward by ideas on the shop floor.
Workers take responsibility for their work, are aware of the real
costs and know that if the company doesn't make a profit, they won't
get a wage rise.
So what's the connection to the red meat industry? Dutton Engineering
take a sheet of metal and cut it into different shapes and make new
objects, meat producers start with a live animal or carcase, which
is butchered into different cuts of meat or further processed into
something else such as sausages. They are both, in effect, running
a production line.
David Williams from R E Williams, who attended the workshop, said: "Malcolm
MacDonald from the RMIF has been working with us and has shone some
light on some of our weaknesses. We have already implemented some
changes that have already saved us a lot of money but to come to
Dutton Engineering and see a company that has already made those
changes and is still changing to adapt to the market is inspirational.
"I know we've got a long way to go in our own business but
we're determined to make those changes and I'm confident that it
will dramatically improve our bottom line."
Jane Taylor from Owen Taylor, who also attended, added: "We
know that we've got to change as a business to be more successful
and this poses some real challenges. However, visiting Dutton Engineering
has confirmed this and has inspired us to make those changes and
turn our business into a world class operation."
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