Leading pet food manufacturer Fold Hill Foods invests in future of experienced workforce

March 28th, 2017

A family-run pet food manufacturer has increased productivity and improved efficiency by enhancing the skills of its experienced workforce.

Employees at Fold Hill Foods Ltd, based at Old Leake, near Boston in Lincolnshire, recently completed a 12-month bespoke training programme focused on Business Improvement Techniques (BIT).

The Level 2 Apprenticeships, delivered by leading independent training provider, Skills Training UK, helped the workforce to improve efficiency and develop new ways of thinking.

Fold Hill Foods Ltd was started in 1979 by Lincolnshire farmer Ted Grant OBE as a means to diversify his farming operation.

The business is still based on the Grant’s family farm and has become one of the largest employers between Boston and Skegness. It supplies dog and cat food to leading supermarkets and other retailers and has three of its own brands – Laughing Dog, Chewdles and Pointer.

General Manager Brian Allen said: “Moving a business forward is not as simple as just buying a new machine. You need to work with your employees and find ways for them to make positive change. We must ensure our workforce has the skills to do their jobs in the most efficient and effective manner.

“That’s why using Skills Training UK has been so great. The teams are taking what they learnt and putting it to real, practical use – we’ve already seen some significant gains in terms of time saving and waste reduction.

“What is really impressive is that a lot of the team did the training on their own time. Everyone could see how much benefit they were getting, so they were willing to put the extra work in and complete the programme as quickly as possible.”

Employees developed their knowledge in areas including health and safety, effective team work, visual management systems and continuous improvement.

They also learnt how to use the ‘Kaizen’ approach to problem solving and completed three workplace related projects on quality, cost and delivery.

Shift Manager Allan Gray, employed by Fold Hill for 16 years, said: “When you’ve been doing the same thing for a number of years it’s good to take a step back and see how it could be done differently.

“Simply changing the way tools are stored, for example, has saved a huge amount of time. We’re now also encouraging other areas of the business to have more involvement in the production process.”

James Luck, Assistant Shift Manager, employed by Fold Hill for 20 years, added: “The training highlighted areas where we could improve and we’ve now made changes on the factory floor. It’s saved time, reduced waste and generally just made our overall process much more efficient.”

‘Kaizen’ techniques centre on the idea of continuous improvement and involve all employees from the CEO to assembly line workers. By creating a more structured and formal working environment the approach aims to eliminate waste and encourage ‘lean’ manufacturing, resulting in cost savings and quality and production improvements.

Stephen Crawley, Skills Director, Skills Training UK, said: “It’s been great to work with Fold Hill. All the employees were keen to learn new ways of working and were able to suggest some small but significant changes that have helped reduce waste and improve efficiency. What’s really good to see is that the team is now feeding that back to their colleagues so that the improvements can continue.”

For more information, take a look at the full Fold Hills case study here or email Skills Training UK at apprenticeships@skillstraininguk.com.