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Developing internal expertise at a small operation

Improving business processes, implementing standard templates and developing engaged employees provide the type of framework many small manufacturers seek to help them stay competitive and grow their businesses. In order to be successful, these companies must remain focused on product quality, production timelines and cash flow – often with little time to spend on critical business strategies such as employee development and establishing standards.

When Process Equipment and Controls (PEC) struggled to find the bandwidth to grow the family business, its president, Ryan Loew, sought industry-developed tools to serve as roadmaps for workforce engagement, effective processes and more. 

After taking over the Georgia-based custom designed food processing manufacturer from his grandfather in 2012, Loew was constantly prioritizing how to navigate various standards and stay current with new technologies. Four years later, the business is experiencing significant growth, nearly tripling its workforce. In a highly regulated industry with little room for error, Loew’s team needed access to knowledge and expertise in order to sustain this growth, particularly in the areas of workforce engagement, factory acceptance tests and safety standards.

With so many new employees, Loew was searching for a resource that would guide his team, help employees acclimate to PEC’s culture and enhance the onboarding process. He discovered the OpX Leadership Network, a forum of OEMs and end users who identify and solve common operational challenges. The network is convened by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

Loew wanted his team to be empowered when on the job site, so they can make decisions on their own and be educated on requirements. He downloaded the OpX Leadership Network’s Workforce Engagement tool and used it as a framework for PEC’s growing team to feel enabled, engaged and connected to the company. The document provided a roadmap with specific steps on how to move forward, which is essential for a small business.

Ensuring capital project excellence is another evolving and constant goal for PEC. Loew’s team needed to enhance the communication among all stakeholders during commercial transactions. PEC implemented the OpX Leadership Network’s Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT) Checklist, and found it was surprisingly easy to deploy the criteria in the plant.

Loew printed the FAT tool at the shop, customized it for his team and gave customers a checklist to write down any defects. For instance, if the customer identifies an issue during the FAT, the checklist clearly states a plan of action to address it immediately. Part of the checklist is customer training on the equipment. PEC provided training for all safety systems, preventive maintenance plans, standard operating procedures and standard sanitation procedures for the equipment. 

The available knowledge and expertise coupled with industry-developed tools fill a significant gap on both sides of the table. Loew is a self-described servant leader; his passion is empowering his team. During his tenure, he found that his employees want be educated on requirements and make their own decisions onsite – executing as project managers – without having to call a supervisor. Introducing these guidelines enables Loew’s team, positions them as leaders, and has ultimately lead to greater gains for PEC.

Visit OpX Leadership Network to learn more.

To attend OpX Leadership presentations on  TCO, FATs, OEE and more on the Innovation Stage at PACK EXPO International in November, register here.