As Parry Catering Equipment steps up its game with the introduction of a 24-month warranty for customers, the company explains the catalyst behind the initiative as being the introduction of a strategy of lean manufacturing, which, alongside a culture of controlled continuous improvement, is now embedded in all aspects of the business.
All Parry-branded equipment purchased after 1 June 2015 carries the 24-month on-site parts and labour warranty as standard but the real change for the business goes far deeper than just the warranty extension. Parry believes its customers can now be confident that they are purchasing high quality, value for money catering equipment from a British business that truly knows the meaning of lean manufacturing, as a result of a step change in the strategy encompassing all aspects of the Parry Group.
“Lean manufacturing, as most people understand it today, came into being after the Second World War when Japan, the US and the UK put effort into rebuilding manufacturing capacity, capability and developing best practice,” explained Parry Group director Mark Banton. “Lean is a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating non-value added activities through continuous improvement and only producing what customers need when they need it. All of our lean activities at Parry must generate measurable gains.”
The continuous improvement and lean manufacturing initiative implemented at Parry involves all of the business disciplines and all of the employees. Indeed, to be successful the scheme depends upon a culture change of engaged and empowered employees, something which has thrown up challenges for Parry, not least because the company has a very established workforce who are resistant to change and, as Banton puts it, somewhat entrenched. The answer lies in ensuring that the message from the top is consistent, clear and simple, to guarantee success.
“Lean thinking is required at every stage of processing a customer’s order, from the order acknowledgement to despatch,” detailed Banton. “So everything we implement we keep simple and we make sustainable to ensure it is right first time. As directors we constantly invest our time in communicating this message to our staff because without the engagement of employees, any lean manufacturing initiative we implement will have a limited return. But with trained and engaged employees the return becomes exponential because it is driven by the individuals as a team.”
Simplicity is woven throughout the company’s initiative: “Because our approach to continuous improvement and lean is bespoke to us at Parry, we avoid using terminology that would instantly create a barrier between the management and staff and we keep things simple,” added Banton. [[page-break]]
“We use basic continuous improvement/lean initiatives that we know make a difference to the bottom line because we measure them: we don’t want badges, we want increased profits. We are also honest with our achievements; if we carry out a lean activity and it doesn’t achieve the intended target, or if a process fails, then we accept the failure and we seek out the root cause and communicate it. We do this because it is too easy to spin the lean message and wear the badges, but this ultimately creates lethargy and ambiguity amongst the workforce. Everyone needs to see that there is a real commitment to continuous improvement."
“The core of what we are doing is getting people to constantly ask if the things they are doing add value,” said Banton.
“Everything you need to use for a manufacturing process must be at hand. For example, if a fitter is assembling a cooker then he should not even need to take one step to pick up a tool or part he needs. There is a big focus on keeping it simple, sustainable and right first time. Everyone is engaged in continuous improvement. We make it clear what people’s roles are and there must be no slipping back into legacy behaviours.”
Parry has been just as meticulous with its initiatives in safety and the environment. A behavioural safety approach is evident throughout the business. “We have a workforce with a fantastic attitude towards health and safety at Parry. There’s a tangible community feel on our shop floor where people work efficiently and with respect for health and safety. As directors we are particularly proud that we operate a safe workplace.”
Banton concluded: “Looking at the successful Parry business we have today, while drawing up plans to secure an even brighter future, we decided that the time was right to embrace a change in culture and all business operations from marketing through to despatch and after sales service. To achieve this we created a top level business change plan that will make us class leaders in our sector. The extended warranty is a key part of that strategy and of our enhanced offering. Customers can rest assured that Parry offers the best all-round package.”