Original article

20th Anniversary Volume

Optimisation of large-scale food production using Lean Manufacturing principles
Eva Høy Engelund,* Gitte Breum† and Alan Friis*
*Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800 Lyngby, Denmark; †The Central Kitchen, Glostrup Hospital, DK-2600 Glostrup, Denmark

Correspondence: Eva Høy Engelund, The National Food Institute Building 227,1., Technical University of Denmark, DK-2800 Lyngby, Denmark. Tel: +45 45255505; Fax: +45 45939600; E-mail: ehe@food.dtu.dk Keywords: foodservice, Lean Manufacturing, meal production, meals, optimisation, planning

This paper discusses how the production principles of Lean Manufacturing (Lean) can be applied in a large-scale meal production. Lean principles are briefly presented, followed by a field study of how a kitchen at a Danish hospital has implemented Lean in the daily production. In the kitchen, the main purposes of implementing Lean were to rationalise internal procedures and to increase production efficiency following a change from cook-serve production to cook-chill, and a reduction in the number of employees. It was also important that product quality and working environment should not be negatively affected by the rationalisation of production procedures. The field study shows that Lean principles can be applied in meal production and can result in increased production efficiency and systematic improvement of product quality without negative effects on the working environment. The results show that Lean can be applied and used to manage the production of meals in the kitchen.

Public foodservice in many countries, including Denmark, is currently undergoing changes (Hwang et al. 1999; Silverman et al. 2000; Mibey & Williams 2002; Engelund et al. 2007). Traditionally, foodservice has been organized with meal production carried out in kitchens placed near the end-users of the services. To reduce production costs, sites have been concentrated in fewer, larger kitchens from where food is distributed to satellite kitchens for final preparation and serving (Engelund et al. 2007). This restructuring has often been combined with a change in production methods and production technologies used to increase output quantities. Cook-chill is the prevalent production principle that is often combined with the use of modified atmosphere

packing, hot fill and similar packing methods, which all aim at prolonging the shelf life of meals (Benner et al. 2003; McClelland & Williams 2003). Cook-chill systems are more efficient than traditional cook-serve production, and generally bring the possibility of reducing staff and thereby costs of production (Clark 1997; McClelland & Williams 2003). The replacement of traditional cooking procedures with cook-chill technology and concurrent separation of cooking and serving introduce a new paradigm in a large-scale meal production. When technology changes and output reaches a certain size, the traditional cooking procedures established for smaller scale cook-serve production are no longer suitable. They do not automatically fit production systems with increased scales of output because criteria, such as


© 2008, The Authors Journal compilation © 2009, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Journal of Foodservice, 20, pp. 4–14 DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-0159.2008.00109.x

Applications of Lean in the food industry have been described and discussed previously (Cox & Chicksand 2005. overproduction. heat-treating components of a meal or mixing components in a culinary attractive way. Womack & Jones (2003) claim that Lean is a tool to ‘banish waste and create wealth in your corporation’. Examples are excess heat treatment of food or an increased number of handlings resulting from less than optimal planning procedures. the rethinking of procedures and management of operations are becoming increasingly necessary to maintain the control of product quality when changing production systems (Rodgers 2005b). Yet others say that Lean is ‘giving people at all levels of an organisation the skills and shared means of thinking. which originally stems from the mass production of automobiles. No matter what the definition is. It commences with an introduction to Lean. Lehtinen & Torkko 2005. Inc. Wiley Periodicals. for example. This paper discusses the possibility of using Lean Manufacturing principles in the management of large-scale catering. and finally from unnecessary processing (packaging. 20. high-volume repetitive manufacturing (Hines et al. Lean has been adapted to fit a variety of industries. defects (rework products. who found Toyota’s car production highly competitive and superior to western production systems. unnecessary motion (moving of people). Internal production processes must change to reflect the demands for increased output. Bicheno 2004). wrong equipment for job). Hence. and made it their mission to spread the knowledge of this production principle.Lean Manufacturing & Meal Production 5 volume-to-surface ratio and product time temperature history. this does not include the applicability of Lean in the production of meals for catering purposes. The production principle was later described and conceptualised by Womack & Jones (2003) and Bicheno (2004). pp. which is seen as any activity that absorbs resources but creates no value (Wood 2004). Bicheno 2004). and incorporates a field study with the practical implementation in a large kitchen. To reflect the fitness of the system. seven types of waste were identified: waste from waiting. over the years. the application of management principles in the foodservice sector is becoming increasingly relevant. Stevenson & Jain 2005. the message is that a continuous focus on value-adding activities through the elimination of waste and connection of production processes in a flow line will cut down costs of production and increase the competitiveness of a company. Car production can be characterised as © 2008. 2004) or mass production (James-Moore & Gibbons 1997). paperwork errors and mistakes). which when brought all together have the potential to bring about a “lean” and therefore particularly competitive state in a company’ (Warnecke & Hüser 1995). Journal of Foodservice. An industrial production principle. Value here is a characteristic that makes the product or service more valuable to the end customer. Others characterise Lean as ‘an intellectual approach consisting of a system of measures and methods. Originally. transporting. especially when the number of employees is simultaneously reduced. However. The contrast to value is waste. 4–14 . inventories (overstocking). to systematically drive out waste by designing better ways of working. Taylor 2006). As large-scale foodservice in general is facing demands for increased efficiency of production. has successfully been applied to manage a variety of production and service industries. ‘Lean Manufacturing’ (Lean). followed by a presentation of the case kitchen and a description of the implementation of Lean. improving connections and easing flows within supply chains’ (Wood 2004). are altered (Rodgers 2005c). however. Simons & Zokaei 2006. Value and waste in a production line Lean Manufacturing aims to increase customerperceived value of products in every production step. they gave it the name ‘Lean’. administration and services with great success (Bowen & Youngdahl 1998. and resulted in both increased efficiency of procedures and improved product quality (Bowen & Youngdahl 1998. and the original version of Lean focused on explaining the benefits in similar operations. Later. two more Lean Manufacturing Lean Manufacturing originally stemmed from the Japanese car producer Toyota. The Authors Journal compilation © 2009.

Wiley Periodicals. These Lean principles and tools are described singly by Womack & Jones (2003) but work together systemwise in a Lean setting. Having identified the value of products. The mapping (a real map is drawn) shows the location of production equipment in use. sweep (tidiness. which stands for sort (equipment. To facilitate the process of preventing waste in production. The fourth principle is not to produce anything ‘upstream’ unless it is needed ‘downstream’. Value stream mapping refers to the mapping of a product’s route and is explained in more detail further. the latter being eliminated in order to obtain an efficient and customer-oriented production line consisting of value-creating activities.6 Lean Manufacturing & Meal Production types of waste have been added: design of goods and services. Hence. which does not meet customer needs. The involvement of everyone in the continuous improvement is what makes Lean a philosophy – improving working processes is integrated in job routines (Womack & Jones 2003. This is not only about creating a product that the customer requires with a minimum of defects. pp. Wasteful activities must be avoided as they increase the overall production time. remove what is not used). With the customers’ requirements for product characteristics in mind. as a production philosophy. Lean. In the following section. but also routine checking of equipment for defects). and absorb resources. reduce efficiency of the line. and existing procedures changed and equipment relocated to reflect this. The principle is in contrast to batch and queue proce- The housekeeping tool ‘5S’ Organisation of raw materials and utensils is also a way to prevent wasteful production activities. and from the map. 20. is about preventing waste more than eliminating it (Wood 2004). It implies that production must be just-in-time. Every bottleneck or ‘batch and queue’ process must be avoided to obtain an uninterrupted flow throughout the production. which is important as the goal of the Lean process is a line where every activity adds a specified customer value to the product. 4–14 . the second step is to identify and map the value stream in the production line. the production process can be seen. But actually. It is used to get an overview of existing production and activities as it identifies all procedures from product design to production and distribution of end products. but also includes the perfection of every action in connection with the production process. and eliminating this category of activities is the means to increase the efficiency of the production line (Simons & Zokaei 2006). and untapped human potential. dures. The ‘housekeeping’ tool 5S. The Lean management tools applied in the field study Value stream mapping The tool ‘value stream mapping’ refers to the identification and mapping of the processing of a product or product group. The ‘ideal’ production flow is drawn on a map. Inc. simplify (equipment and tools must be in the right place). Journal of Foodservice. the map is used to characterise activities as ‘value-creating’ or ‘nonvaluecreating’. as seen in mass production. This categorisation implies that waste is not only assigned to products but also to activities. waste increases the costs of production (Womack & Jones 2003). The five Lean principles The critical starting point when changing a conventional production line into a Lean process is the determination of value from the customers’ points of view. Womack & Jones (2003) have summarised the essence of Lean in five principles that can be introduced into a production line using Lean management tools. The third principle is the connection of valuecreating activities in a continuous flow process. standardise (working procedures) and sustain (housekeeping is an ongoing © 2008. and aims to reduce the amount of resources locked up in inventories. Lean principles and the tools relevant for this study are presented. The fifth principle is about pursuing perfection through a continuous improvement. The Authors Journal compilation © 2009. both internally between processes and externally when delivering products to the end-user. It involves all employees as they know procedures the most and are closest to make suggestions for improvement. Bicheno 2004).

everyday small improvements of processes. 4–14 . Bicheno 2004). so long as they improve the efficiency of production. and. Improvement of production processes: Kaizen and Kaizen Blitz There are two elements to improvement: the daily continuous improvement (Kaizen). one process. which. In summary. and the method applied to achieve this is the elimination of waste-using Lean tools. 20. Wiley Periodicals. It involves a team of both employees and management. once started. nothing is too inferior and suggestions. the result of a concentrated effort on one area of production. such as switching locations of two raw materials or mounting a lamp in the production line. are all considered. The scheduled meetings are also a way to systematise communication among teams. who review machinery set-ups and production procedures to identify possibilities for increasing efficiency. or other parameters that are found to be important for production performance. Journal of Foodservice. one area in the plant. of course. During the Kaizen Blitz event. and Lean favours measurable parameters to express the state of production. The information should be displayed in the production area to ensure communication of the state of production to all employees. Use of measurable parameters and exchange of information in production Preventing waste is also about the clear communication of goals in production. the collection of ideas is needed as well as the routines for follow-up on the suggestions received. Kaizen Blitz events are highly efficient tools and are responsible for improvements to production performance as resources are concentrated (Bicheno 2004). or one safety issue. and breakthrough improvements (Kaizen Blitz). Implementation leads to a reduction in time wasted on nonvalueadding activities. Lean and meal production The central hypothesis of this paper is that Lean principles can be applied in meal production to increase the efficiency of processes without reducing the quality of meals prepared.Lean Manufacturing & Meal Production 7 procedure). Lean is about delivering the best possible product value to the customer while optimizing the use of production resources. To practise Kaizen. thus. which may also cause new ideas to emerge. customer satisfaction with products. for example. The involvement of everyone in the continuous process of driving out wasteful procedures is what makes Lean a philosophy rather than merely a production principle. Kaizen involves all employees in production as they are encouraged to come up with all kinds of suggestions for improvement of daily processes. and hence needs to be repeated frequently to continuously increase efficiency. in production can be performed by scheduling several short meetings (5 min) among team leaders. Inc. thereby increasing the time available for valueadding activities leading to a more efficient production. Kaizen Blitz is a ‘here-and-now’ process to improve the performance of one aspect of production. and Why the principles may be useful. However. it is a never-ending procedure that must be integrated into job routines (Womack & Jones 2003. number of defects. What challenges this may bring. supplies a set of practices that results in improved organisation of production if incorporated in the daily routines. The questions to be answered are as follows: How this may look in reality. pp. Lean stems from mass production of nonperishable goods. all Lean principles and tools may not be equally applicable in food production. important to consider this aspect when discussing the implementation of Lean in meal production. that is. It demands the systematic collection of data on performance. changes are implemented and alterations in equipment are made to observe the effect of the ideas. for example. locating tools or raw materials that are needed in production. and facilitate redistribution of resources with the purpose of maximizing the efficiency of production. for example. © 2008. This process continues until the team is satisfied or the Kaizen Blitz event is over. but it is. The purpose of these meetings is to exchange information on the workload of single teams and on the progress of their tasks. The Authors Journal compilation © 2009. In theory. it typically increases flow and efficiency in one area of the production and not in the production line.

is in agreement with the need to control the parameters during meal production. for example. flow in the production line. pp. but where the origin of TQM has not been identified. and makes the theoretic principles less diffuse and easier to translate into actions than those of the TQM (Andersson et al. In meal production. The variation in size and shape of similar ingredients is a major difference between the production of spare parts in car production and the production of food. important to remember that Lean does not. This. Lean as a quality management tool It may be questioned if the purposes and tools of Lean differ from those found in other management principles. and Lean principles can support the process of adequate planning and managing meal production processes. 20. Lean stems from Toyota. especially to ensure the chilling of food within the required time frame. however. it is argued. Six © 2008. the total quality management (TQM) or Six Sigma. These production principles all stem from the Japanese quality evolution. Identification of the origins makes it possible to observe how Lean and Six Sigma are practised within their original frameworks. Lean. for example. in its original form. Benner et al. Inc.8 Lean Manufacturing & Meal Production Lean and product quality control The most important characteristics of meal products include the perishable nature of raw and processed materials (Stevenson & Jain 2005). Although Lean aims to deliver value to the customer. It implies that product quality will change irreversibly during processing and storing (Mibey & Williams 2002. The Authors Journal compilation © 2009. The quality of meals produced is complex to define. Journal of Foodservice. It should also be recognised that non-optimal processing may not have an immediate effect on product quality but can show later when. In Lean. and usually parameters. and Six Sigma from Motorola. Dahlgaard & Dahlgaard-Park 2006). and there are major differences between Lean and HACCP. thus. Lean deals with the identification of customer demands. To achieve standardisation and flow under these conditions is another challenge when applying Lean principles to meal production. the documentation of food safety is supported by quality control programmes. Pace and flow of production Another major difference between Lean and traditional food production is the standardisation of products and coordination of procedures to follow a certain pace in the production line. address the safety aspects of food production. and determining the pace of production (the time used for preparation of single components) is advantageous in all kinds of mass production including food (Simons & Zokaei 2006). Wiley Periodicals. The safety aspects of meal production are an example of the need to adjust Lean principles to the specific requirements of a production scenario where it is necessary to take these into account. microbial population and vitamin retention. however. Standardised procedures are extremely useful in food production. 2003). colour. a production principle suitable for meal production must both focus on controlling the process parameters and on increasing the flow in line. In meal production. procedures can only be standardised to the point where natural variation in raw materials is still considered. Therefore. it is extremely important to control the production parameters to avoid unintended changes in product quality. These parameters are difficult to measure in a large-scale kitchen. are used as indicators along with texture (Rodgers 2005c). in the storage of intermediate produce and in the storage of finished products. It is. it is a production philosophy and not a quality control programme. 2006. During processing. controlling the production parameters are decisive to achieve the required meal quality. 4–14 . which are often developed from Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures in agreement with national legal requirements (Rodgers 2005a). such as odour. the storage ability is reduced or the product sensory quality is impaired. whereas HACCP programmes identify if and how product quality can be challenged in a production line. organisational issues of production and continuous improvement of processes. analyses of the production line are performed to optimise the use of resources and avoid wasteful procedures with the overall aims of increasing the in-line flow and product value to the customer.

Methodology This research is a field study of how large-scale meal production can benefit from applying Lean in daily management and production planning. the systematic evaluation and improvement of product quality was given a high priority in the kitchen. 2006). Lean is discussed at a plant level in contrast to supply chain level. sandwiches. those Lean principles and tools that have proved most applicable in attaining the goals set by the managers are also discussed. there were separate production lines for hot meal components. Data were obtained through interviews with kitchen managers supplemented with observations of kitchen facilities and production procedures. However. multiple plants and singleprocess levels (Rother & Shook 1999). The Authors Journal compilation © 2009. the kitchen was forced to replace cook-serve with cook-chill production and reduce the number of foodservice employees from 71 to 54. 2006. Based on these interviews. The implementation of Lean in the kitchen began shortly after the change to cook-chill processing and before procedures became routine. jams and the like (Lehtinen & Torkko 2005). The case study kitchen Glostrup Hospital is situated in the greater Copenhagen area in Denmark. and every day. Wiley Periodicals. and is generally accepted (Rother & Shook 1999). The internal working environment in the kitchen was important to the manager as she insisted on maintaining this as a high priority during and after the rationalisation process. and that increased efficiency of production processes was obtained by the optimisation of procedures and not by making the staff work faster.). The central kitchen is situated inside the Hospital grounds in a separate building. The change of production system to cook-chill also had an impact on the end-product quality as recipes and production procedures needed adjustments. 2006). and it is also the reason why Lean principles are likely to be more suitable for meal production than either the TQM or the Six Sigma. A similar approach is used in the discussion of Lean in red meat processing (Simons & Zokaei 2006) and in the production of ketchup. the practical application of Lean in the kitchen is discussed. and the principles can be used singly or combined (Andersson et al. and internal procedures with supply and distribution only briefly being considered. baked products. Journal of Foodservice. Previously with cook-serve production. Therefore. Meal production in Glostrup Hospital’s central kitchen The kitchen produces most components of the meals themselves including breads. Denmark. desserts and cold products (traditional Danish ‘smørrebrød’ or open sandwiches. pp. This brought about a need to review and optimise the production procedures to maintain both output quantity and quality. and the managers were interviewed about procedures and perspectives of working with Lean. the implementation of Lean was expected to result in both increased efficiency of processes and improved product quality while ensuring a pleasant working environment for the remaining employees. and the discussion deals with the results gained so far. For these meals.Lean Manufacturing & Meal Production 9 Sigma and TQM can be seen as complementary management principles as they differ in both theory and approach. The case kitchen at Glostrup Hospital. At the time of the interviews. etc. as the process of implementing is ongoing. © 2008. Inc. Because of these reservations. From the observations. the hospital’s management took the decision that all services should be Lean. This difference in approach may be part of the explanation why Lean is more widely applied than the Six Sigma (Andersson et al. meals for approximately 1000 patients are produced and distributed from the kitchen. Dahlgaard & Dahlgaard-Park 2006). Both Lean and Six Sigma can be used as ‘road maps’ that support the practice of TQM within an organisation (Andersson et al. as Six Sigma is based primarily on statistics. was visited twice during the implementation process. and is limited to the production plant level. 4–14 . the process of implementing Lean had been running for about 1 year. soups and processed vegetables. 20. In 2005. vegetables. breakfast items. and to cut the costs of meal production. Lean focuses on improving production flow and reducing waste.

The manager chose to overcome this problem by using both visual effects and written words in her daily communication. ‘good’. discussed and optimised as procedures were found to include considerable excesses in the handling of products. improved product quality and maintenance of a pleasant working environment in the kitchen. Selected Lean tools were applied in the production to establish how existing procedures could be optimised. and the experience from this was subsequently used to identify the flow in other processes. Value stream mapping of a single product was the first tool used to visualise the flow in existing processes. yellow. packed and stored for up to 3 days before final distribution to hospital wards. and the products had to obtain a yellow Improving efficiency of production processes in the kitchen The challenges in becoming Lean are to increase the production efficiency through a reduction of product waste and an increased process flow. A graph on display in the production facility showing the daily number of comments on food quality was chosen as an expression of customer satisfaction with product quality. it was categorised as waste and should be avoided. which dictates that products should only be processed when orders are received in order to minimise waste. 4–14 . It consisted of a three-colour gradation of product acceptability where red refers to ‘not acceptable’. was totalled and each day marked on the graph. The packaging was standardised in two. Journal of Foodservice. Kaizen Blitz activities were performed in selected areas of production. Wiley Periodicals. Meals were prepared. As the routine of storing products for 3 days did not add value to the meals. five or seven portions per pack. The kitchen staff are very international as employees come from 12 different nationalities. Value stream mapping highlighted the procedures of packing and storing meals for up to 3 days before use. An internal quality control system was developed to reflect the need for adjusting recipes to improve meal quality after the change from cookserve to cook-chill production. The purpose was to minimise the time used to locate ingredients and equipment needed in the production by systematically increasing the organisation of the facilities. portioned and packed before actual orders were received. This practice of standardizing packaging was accepted by the management as a pragmatic practice of cook-chill production. and the routine often hindered distribu- © 2008. when changing to cook-chill production. This procedure contradicted the ‘pull’ principle in Lean. tion of the exact number of meals ordered. The following describes how Lean was applied in these areas and the results achieved. namely. pp. the Lean tool of measurable or visual parameters to express the state of processes and to facilitate communication among groups of employees was used. This procedure was chosen as a way to ensure communication of customer product satisfaction to all employees.10 Lean Manufacturing & Meal Production all items were prepared. value stream. processed and kept warm until service. Next in line were the packing facilities and transport equipment. Evaluation and improvement of product quality To improve product quality. 20. ‘acceptable’. namely. and green. Inc. The testing of product quality was performed internally in the kitchen. which in turn complicates conversations. improved efficiency to reduce costs. ‘Cold production’ was the first to have its routines observed. and the wards received the portion sizes equal to or the closest number above their actual orders. Kaizen Blitz and the housekeeping discipline 5S. The number of complaints for each meal component. The Authors Journal compilation © 2009. based on feedback received from wards and patients. Initially. the separation of production according to meal was maintained with processed meal components being assembled into meals. The housekeeping system 5S was first applied in the storage facilities and in separate areas of the kitchen. Application of Lean in the kitchen The kitchen had three areas of focus during the change to Lean. The implementation of cook-chill production procedures called for a systematic evaluation of product quality. thereby increasing efficiency.

the working environment was already addressed through teamwork and joint responsibility. all contributed to improved production efficiency by reducing the amount of product waste and wasteful procedures. This reduced the number of meals wasted to 5%. Results and discussion Improving production process efficiency with Lean The three tools. A system to do so was established (a whiteboard with a drawing of production facilities. © 2008. sauces and soups) were portioned in standard sizes. Waste from the distribution of excess meals was estimated as being up to 10% of the number of meals distributed. which enabled them to give suggestions for improvement by placing stickers on the board. During Lean. it was extended to involve the continuous improvement of processes (Kaizen). Kaizen Blitz caused changes in the processes and relocation of equipment in three areas: cold production. and only low cost products (porridge. To involve staff as much as possible in the continuous improvement of processes. Kaizen Blitz and implementation of 5S. 20. ‘post-it’ stickers and a pen to write down suggestions were located in the production area). All employees participated in a weekly meeting to follow up on existing projects and prioritise new suggestions for improvements. This system was developed to visualise the progress of adjusting existing procedures to cook-chill production. in contrast to the Maintaining focus on the working environment The Lean principle of involving all employees in the daily improvement of production processes (Kaizen) was applied as part of the effort to improve the working environment. The Authors Journal compilation © 2009. A further reduction demands a feedback of waste at the ward level. Another initiative designed to increase efficiency was to change the production planning from meals to processes. The portioning procedure was changed. Value stream mapping made it clear that the procedure of storing finished meals included wasteful activities as it contradicted the principle of letting customers pull products from production. and was considered more flexible to collect ideas. it was difficult to make a fair split of results according to each tool. Journal of Foodservice. which decreased the time needed to locate these. as were three daily briefings where team managers reported production status. while meat dishes were portioned and packed when orders were received. 4–14 . The systematic communication among team managers also facilitated the relocation of resources between teams when workloads demanded it. The Kaizen Blitz events and the implementation of 5S supported the process of increasing the flow in production. Every morning. therefore. The change to cook-chill technology had increased overtime in the kitchen. Process improvement was based on the facilitation of job routines as the way to optimise production flow. Still. packing room and transport equipment.Lean Manufacturing & Meal Production 11 to pass. these parameters were chosen to express the state of the working environment in the kitchen. a meeting for all employees was held in front of this whiteboard. and employees wanted to reduce this burden. Wiley Periodicals. which have benefited the flow in production. Inc. the systematic collection of suggestions for improvement was needed. pp. The use of the whiteboard as a meeting place ensured that staff had regular contact with the whiteboard. Alhough Kaizen Blitz and 5S had different roles in the process. and both helped to facilitate the process of maintaining output quantity with fewer production employees. The acceptability of the working environment was expressed through employee absence because of illness and the amount of overtime. but this cannot be established at the moment because of internal organisational barriers among the staff. value stream mapping. Defects were fixed and equipment were optimised to facilitate production routines. Production of similar components but of different meals was changed to one consecutive procedure. some nonvalue-adding handling had to remain because of the temperature requirements (quality related) of cooling products. This could also be carried out at any time throughout the day and independent of the presence of the managers. The implementation of 5S in the storage facilities resulted in improved organisation of ingredients and raw materials. Before Lean was implemented.

Instead. It has also changed the culture in the kitchen as it is now generally acceptable to ‘re-do’ products in order to improve product quality. The additional waste that this may cause is considered part of the costs of training and adhering to processes in a new production system. as the new processes became more established and employees could see that their suggestions were actioned. because of illnesses and holidays. Inc. an aching back was offered a part-time job or a change in job tasks to reduce the amount of absence because of illness and to minimise the loss of resources. The field study showed how Lean principles and tools can be successfully applied in a meal production in a hospital kitchen. As information of workloads and time pressures was shared among teams. This is because the distribution must be timely and separated from the processing of meals to show an effect of gathering production of similar products.12 Lean Manufacturing & Meal Production former procedure of finishing one meal at a time. 3 improved efficiency in storage. was a reoccurring event. and was extremely advantageous in cook-chill production. Maintaining focus on the working environment The involvement of staff in the continuous improvement of working processes and the establishment of ways to collect suggestions increased the number of ideas for changes. and process improvements were seen as the management’s responsibility. The actual number of suggestions before and after the implementation of Lean was not collected. The weekly follow-up meetings have made more people interested in taking part in action to improve the working processes. they increasingly helped each other finish the production tasks. a limited number of staff commented on production procedures. actions taken and changes made to the organisation to achieve an improved performance (Karlsson & Åhlström 1996). Another outcome of the focus on working environment and reduction of overtime was the establishment of more flexible job tasks. a general procedure to minimise production tasks during these periods was established. the systematic evaluation of product quality has made the kitchen less liable to distribute meal products of a questionable quality. Following this procedure. Evaluation and improvement of product quality The use of measurable parameters (the number of customer complaints and the colour system for recipe acceptability) provided the staff with benchmarks for product quality. an increasing number of staff took an interest. The new practice reduced change-over times in processing. The focus on the reduction of overtime caused a more flexible approach to the planning and performance of production. overtime was reduced. © 2008. However. The implementation of Lean is a continuous change process. 2 reduced product waste resulting from changed storage and portioning routines. the results can be summarised as follows: 1 Increased flow as a result of optimizing handling routines in selected areas and better planning of the daily production. This caused a change in attitude among the staff when they were too ill to go to work. Combined with the use of cookchill technology. The suggestions cover everything from the relocation of process equipment and raw materials in storage facilities. transporting and packing procedures. and was part of the solution to the problem of reducing overtime in the kitchen. Team spirit across existing teams has been improved with the establishment of three daily status meetings. Wiley Periodicals. This involved a change in the menu so that less work-intensive meals were substituted for the more demanding menus during these periods. pp. and thus it is difficult to quantify all results. and in this way. 4–14 . An employee with. for example. Journal of Foodservice. The systematic evaluation of product quality clarified where improvements were needed. The Authors Journal compilation © 2009. 20. It is the manager’s opinion that before the introduction of Lean. and 6 reduction of overtime. 4 a common system involving all employees in improving/evaluating product quality. to changes in production procedures. and facilitated the communication between managers and responsible employees. As a reduction in the staff numbers. 5 increased team spirit. progress can be expressed by qualitative evaluation of the effects of the principles implemented. but the manager’s clear impression was that the number has risen.

Bowen DE. Kaizen Blitz.Lean Manufacturing & Meal Production 13 These results show that implementing Lean principles and tools have caused positive changes to the focus areas ‘efficiency’ (1–3). (2003). ‘product quality’ (4) and ‘working environment’ (5–6). the successful application of Lean in meal production depends not only on the internal production planning and performance. have led to an increased efficiency in the kitchen. Lean tools have also shown to be useful to increase employee involvement in the improvement of production and in increasing team spirit. Youngdahl WE (1998). and increased involvement of staff in the improvement of processes (Kaizen). [‘Lean’ service: in defence of a production-line approach. and to take into account legal temperature requirements. Bicheno J (2004). Inc. use of measurement and visual presentation of key parameters. because of internal organisational barriers. is its main objective. Torstensson H (2006). Eriksson H. This may cause handling procedures that in the Lean terminology are categorised as waste. Six Sigma and Lean. Journal of Foodservice. Similarities and differences between TQM. Cox A. The Authors Journal compilation © 2009. Value stream mapping. PICSIE Books: Buckingham. meals served and maintaining the costs within what might be a low budget. the management and staff are forced to consider special routines and the unique characteristics of food. good communication. In the kitchen. It should finally be noted that a production principle like Lean can never be a substitute for ‘good’ management in meal production. Lean can supply tools to plan and manage the production line. Trends in Food Science and Technology 14:469–77. In addition. use of measurement and visual presentation of key parameters. Chicksand D (2005). through optimised production planning and strict control with the process parameters. systematic efforts to improve product quality were established. and this has brought about a need to review the planning procedures and the management of operations. References Andersson R. pp. but for the success of the foodservice. European Management Journal 23:648–62. Conclusions Traditional large-scale meal production often has problems obtaining the desired quality of © 2008. Still. and increased involvement of staff in the process improvement have brought visible results to the kitchen. official requirements and work organisation in surrounding systems. Clark JR (1997). Benner M et al. 20. The implementation of Lean has also resulted in continuous evaluation of product quality and of the visual presentation of daily customer satisfaction. Hence. International Journal of Service Industry Management 9:207–25. the principles challenged the managers to change portioning procedures towards just-in-time. 5S. Food Service Management December:60–7. 5S. 4–14 . but that the resulting effect is dependent on the particular production system and external conditions. Thus. The limits of lean management thinking: multiple retailers and food and farming supply chains. Wiley Periodicals. The New Lean Toolbox. In meal production. the meal distribution system at the hospital limited the successful reduction of product waste. the Lean tools have proven to be applicable in meal production although the success has varied. The efforts to increase efficiency did not result in the achievement of just-in-time production and consistent pull production as this required a dedicated cookserve production. and portioning of more expensive meal components now reflects actual orders. Lean Manufacturing theoretically fits the special characteristics of meal production as improved product quality. A field study in a hospital central kitchen shows that the Lean tools. A chain information model for structured knowledge management: towards effective and efficient food product improvement. The field study also shows that Lean Manufacturing principles can improve the efficiency of meal production. The use of cookchill systems has made the large-scale cooking of meals comparable to the larger scale industrial production. Kaizen Blitz. Improving catering productivity. but is also influenced by the choice of system. value stream mapping. The TQM Magazine 18:282–96. An example of this was seen in the ‘cold kitchen’ area where optimised procedures still contained nonvalueadded handling to ensure the adequate cooling of products. care and attention in the processing of food is still the basis on which the service relies. From the continuous collection of customer feedback.

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