Baird Food Services
Baird Food Services attributes success from day 1 to full integration of its operations
Founded in January 2017, Baird Food Services (BFS) took just 12 weeks to turn an empty warehouse in Crewe, into a unique and fully integrated outsourced meat processing operation, delivering 25 tonnes of processed product in its first week in operation. Two years later, thanks to its innovative business model, the company is processing over 400 tonnes of meat products a week, for high profile pork processors and retailers, and a range of key customers.
For Nick Baird, MD of Baird Foods, creating a new concept and business that would solely offer meat processing services to customers, was totally new. Based around a business case for improving the yield, margin and overall levels of butchery, the success of its operation relied upon the development of a tailored and tightly controlled processing environment.
Commenting on its conception, Nick said: “The site we occupy in Crewe was one we’d previously operated from and had also been used by other meat processors, so we knew it had the right footprint for such an operation. Through our connections in the industry, we also knew that there was a market for the services we intended to offer, and we were confident the new business could be a success.
“By having this clear vision of a technology-driven service operation and through the recruitment of some very experienced people to help make it possible, meant that we were able to develop the concept very quickly.”
QA, traceability and process controls at the heart of operations
Taking on the challenge to get the site up and running in 12 weeks, factory manager, Kevin Horner had to plan out every aspect. Everything from water, electricity, telephones, and machinery, through to a skilled workforce and systems had to be put in place. With the highest possible levels of customer service at the heart of its KPIs, both Kevin and Nick recognised the need for a fully integrated software solution to centrally control the whole operation, with built-in flexibility to cope with future customer demands and inevitable changes.
Kevin: “Because both Nick and I have many years of experience within the meat processing sector when we started the business, we had a clear idea of what type of traceability, QA and process control levels our customers would require. We applied our knowledge to specify a factory operation that would be managed with state-of-the-art processing equipment, a skilled workforce, and a software solution controlling every aspect of the end-to-end processes.
“Throughout my career, I’ve had experience of using a wide variety of MES and factory software packages, and I knew where the gaps within these systems lay. As we were familiar with SI’s capabilities within the food manufacturing industry, we invited them in to talk through our challenging requirements and timeframes for getting the factory operational.
Baird Foods Service and SI – a great cultural fit
“SI’s reputation for providing specialist software to the meat processing industry and knowledge of its team was the first obvious benefit for us. The culture was a good fit from day one; SI’s team talked the same language as we did, as they understand both the industry terminology and the cuts of meat we were going to be processing. This common understanding allowed us to move through the specification process very quickly; in fact, it only took a week to scope out a fully integrated solution – from raw material input, right through to despatch.
“Again, this shared understanding, together with a robust specification, meant we were able to swiftly move to the implementation phase. Remarkably, SI completed this work in just 10 working days, ready for the first week in April, our target “day one” for the business.”
To support the go-live date, SI technicians were on hand to train our new staff on how to use the touch screens and intelligent scanners, that would manage the key operational tasks in the individual process stages. These include QA for the intake of raw material, issuing product to stock and the subsequent issuing to one of the four processing lines. On completion of the processing phase, robust touchscreens and scanners were also put in place to manage the labelling of products, build pallets and dispatch finish products.
End to end mass balance calculations
SI designed a completely paperless solution with full traceability for Baird Food Services, utilising real-time shop floor data capture. Through the use of the SI centralised information hub, the solution manages every process, including weighing for mass balance calculations at the start and end of the production lines, and feeding the labeling solutions.
Commenting on the project, Rob Stephens, CEO of SI, said, ‘’Baird Foods Services are a very innovative and forward-thinking organisation, who really understand what type of service the industry needs. In fact, to make themselves successful they have to be better at the job than their customers, otherwise they wouldn’t have a viable business. For our team at SI working with the BFS team was incredibly exciting as the deadlines they were working to meant that decision making had to be swift and decisive. From specification to implementation and go live they trusted our team and took on board the system in an extremely short timescale.
Real-time monitoring at every stage
“From day one they made it part of their day to day operation and we have since worked closely with the team to continue to develop the solution and reporting that is so crucial to the success and proof of the business model. They are now a shining example of how a business can be created by reaping the benefits of our real-time integrated solution and the tight up to the minute control and full traceability it delivers.’’
Kevin continued: “By choosing to integrate at every stage, we benefit from real-time monitoring across the business from intake to production and dispatch.”
“As we don’t have any of our own stock and receive raw material from our customers, process control and reporting are very important. At the end of each day, we compile and send a full report to each customer, detailing everything we have processed for them. This includes data on raw material stock availability for the next day, WIP, and finished goods that are either in storage or have been dispatched.
The most important element of each report is the yield, margin and mass balance achieved from each batch run. We work to very tight tolerances to deliver the agreed customer yield and specification.