A PRODUCER of chilled food has secured national recognition for improving productivity and the skills of its workforce.
Consett-based International Cuisine Ltd (ICL) scooped the top industry award Productivity through Skills at the National Food Manufacture Excellence Awards, after seeing off competition from Glenmorangie and Loch Fyne Oysters.
A leading UK supplier of chilled ready-meals, ICL embarked on a lean manufacturing initiative and called in the help of NEPA (the North-East Productivity Alliance) to help identify ways to drive down lead time, remove waste, boost productivity and improve competitiveness. The resulting increase in performance has led to numerous top industry awards honouring excellence in food manufacturing, including the productivity through skills award, which heralded the company as a national example of best practice.
International Cuisine, part of the Daniels Group, produces more than one million meals a week at its Consett headquarters, supplying customers throughout the UK, including supermarket companies Asda, Morrisons and the Co-op.
Nicole Thompson, International Cuisine head of human resources, said: “We have successfully followed NEPA’s ‘Narrow and Deep’ training programme, achieving increased efficiency and staff retention. Two managers were initially released from their full-time jobs to be trained by NEPA engineers as company ‘Change Agents,’ and are now studying for a foundation degree in operations improvement.
“So far we have put 480 of our 550 staff through this programme and 80% of our staff are now trained to be multi-skilled. This has really helped us to create a culture of continuous improvement within the company.”
In order to help workers develop their managerial skills and increase their confidence, individuals at International Cuisine are given additional responsibilities, such as the opportunity to practise deputising for their manager or team leader when that person is on holiday.
Tom Weldon, International Cuisine site operations director, said: “This year alone, we have won the prestigious People Effectiveness Award at the Imeche Manufacturing Awards, were first-place winners of the National Meat and Fish Awards for our ‘Truly Irresistible Fish Pie’, which we manufacture for the Co-op, and most recently we have won this Productivity through Skills award.
“Being recognised through top industry awards is an accolade to the way the workforce has embraced change and challenges associated with a diverse workforce, which has adopted a continuous improvement ethos.”