“A critical thing to understand about increasing efficiency in a food industry workplace is that there is no one “silver bullet” technique that you’re looking for,” says Matt Frauenshuh, CEO of Fourteen Foods and Principal of Frauenshuh Inc. “Don’t just look to your employees or your technology – look at every element of your organization from the top down.”
Make an effort to understand how it all fits together and how a small change in one area might be able to make a big improvement in another.
Therefore, as you work towards creating a leaner, more nimble, and ultimately more profitable food industry organization, there are a number of key things you’ll want to keep in mind.
“One of the best ways to improve efficiency in a food industry workplace involves taking a “bird’s eye view” approach to what you’re trying to do,” said Frauenshuh. “Don’t just look to your actual employees to see which improvements can be made – look to the entire facility itself.”
This means taking meaningful steps to reduce your electricity consumption, for example. Although water is an important part of food processing, try to reduce your usage as much as possible. Look at performance metrics related to factors like your food processing equipment and make any energy-saving upgrades that you can.
Focus on Energy-Efficient Upgrades
According to one recent study conducted by the United States Department of Energy, it has been estimated that about 70% of the electricity usage in these environments has to do with various equipment motors. Making energy-efficient upgrades can now only allow you to extract more value out of the entire process, but it can reduce costs in a way that allows you to put that money back into other areas of the business where it can do the best.
Keep in mind that while these things do require effort, you’re not talking about major changes – rather, it’s about a series of smaller ones that make a meaningful impact on what you’re capable of doing and how efficiently you’re working at the same time.
Why Planning is Essential
Another great way to increase efficiency in terms of a food industry workplace involves taking a proactive approach to planning. Case in point: everything going on in the world right now with the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As soon as the pandemic began in early 2020, consumer behaviors changed rapidly. Demand for food industry items surged, while a lot of organizations were faced with the challenge of marrying production lines that were outpacing their capacity to store what they were producing.
While this is a unique situation and to a certain extent it couldn’t have been adequately predicted, it’s still important to try. Whenever new food processing technologies are made available, evaluate them based on how they align with your long-term goals. Think about factors like not only their usefulness but their sustainability.
Speak to others in the industry to get a better idea of who your ideal customers are, what they need, and what they might want moving forward. That way, if major behavioral shifts do occur again, you’ll be in a better position to adapt to them. You won’t have to spend as much energy reacting to something you didn’t predict and can instead remain nimble and meet those expectations moving forward.
Simplifying Existing Processes
Finally, one of the best ways to improve efficiency in a food industry workplace involves taking a look at your existing processes to identify any areas for improvement that may exist. Think of it like this: even taking a process that currently requires 10 steps to complete and distilling it down to seven steps will still free up valuable resources. It will save time, employees can focus on tasks that truly need their attention, etc. Now, imagine if you were able to make that same improvement to every process on your production lines – think of the major overall impact that would have on your operations.
To help with this, consider mapping out your existing workflows so that you can see the entire thing from start to finish. The chances are that some processes were created using outdated thinking – technology has evolved since then, or your operations have changed, etc. Consider those processes within the context of the current state of your business and look for opportunities to reduce or even eliminate certain redundancies.
Automation – both in terms of software and production line equipment – will help enormously to that end. Try to eliminate as many manual processes as you can, all without sacrificing quality along the way.
In the end, understand that improving efficiency in a food industry workplace is an ongoing goal that needs to be a top priority. Yes, by implementing steps like those outlined above you’ll make meaningful gains in the short term. But consumer behaviors will always change. Technology will always advance. Workers can always learn new skills. If you emphasize these things on an ongoing basis and truly understand that continuous improvement will be a major part of your success, there is no limit to what you’ll be able to accomplish.
About Matt Frauenshuh
As Chief Executive Office for Fourteen Foods and Double Seven Development, Matt Frauenshuh has led his family’s business to become the largest Dairy Queen franchisee in the U.S. Fourteen Foods currently owns and operates over 240 DQ Grill & Chill Restaurants in 13 states. He leads the company modeling the core values of faith and family. Matt has sat on the boards of the National Prayer Breakfast CEO Panel and United Heroes League.
Matt has a bachelor’s degree in business economics from St. Olaf College. He received his MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Matt is on the national board of The Salvation Army.