Conagra Brands’ Troy, Ohio, team implemented a comprehensive continuous improvement program on the site’s bakery line when running pizza, and have set up new process and operating standards, organization, and line planning. Ongoing efforts are expected to deliver more than $325,000 in cost savings by reducing yield loss by 13.4% and eliminating 267,000 lb of meat, cheese, and breading waste.
“Every opportunity to manufacture food more efficiently will allow us to use water and energy resources [Scope 1 and 2 GHG] more efficiently,” says Kate Pitschka, director of supply chain sustainability. “However, they are not directly quantified in this submission. Also, by eliminating food waste, we reduce the amount of Scope 3 GHG emissions [EPA WARM] emissions that the food waste would create downstream.”
Meat toppings process and planning analysis took six months and concluded in August 2021; cheese process and planning improvements took five months and concluded in November 2021; and extra toppings and cheese reuse took one month to implement in September 2021. Over a two-month period, employees’ continuous improvement skills were developed, beginning in November 2021.
The reduction of the weight average per case is forecasted to deliver annualized savings of more than $325,000.
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“Programs similar to this have been implemented at other Conagra facilities, but the Troy team is one of the most effective,” Pitschka explains. “They have strong foundational knowledge on the Conagra Performance System principles and applied it to their bakery line, equipment, and staffing circumstances.”
“Any manufacturing facility can implement the problem-solving tools used in our continuous improvement program, but it would take a long time to develop the continuous improvement culture like we have at the Troy facility,” says Plant Manager Jeff Erwin. For example, it would take another facility with a less-developed culture many months instead of just the two months it took us, he adds. The Troy facility demonstrated that it is worth investing in the development of all team members.
The project won a third-place award in the program category in ProFood World’s Sustainability Excellence in Manufacturing Awards.