Lean Management in sugar production

Introduction of the same standard of workplace organization, 5S audits and assessment system in all operations in the food industry.

Agrana is known as a leading producer and supplier of sugar in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe with a total of nine facilities in six countries.

The cooperation between FBE and Agrana started in Slovakia and gradually continued in two sugar factories in the Czech Republic, one sugar factory in Hungary and two other sugar factories in Romania. The company was first looking for a partner to help implement 5S workplace organization, later TPM and other Lean Methods, and at the same time be able to support its facilities in different countries in local languages. Knowledge of local languages ​​was essential, as the facilities dealt with a change that had to be communicated to all employees, but mainly explained and demonstrated directly in the workshop.

The sugar business is specific in that the year is divided into two parts – the time devoted to beet processing and the time devoted to maintenance. This specificity had to be included in the implementation plan, which was tailored according to the needs and possibilities of individual facilities. At the same time, it ensured the implementation of the same standard of workplace organization, audit system and 5S assessment in all facilities.

“We consider our cooperation with FBE in the implementation of 5S to be highly productive and we appreciate the consultant’s professional approach. We think that thanks to FBE’s professional and careful approach to the implementation of 5S in our company, every employee understands the importance and benefits of implementing 5S.”

Crystal sugar made by Slovenske Cukrovary and supported in lean methodology by FBE

Sugar production in Europe

Why Lean Management in sugar factories?

Production Director: “To remain competitive and better serve our customers, we strive for operational excellence, continuous improvement and increased productivity. For us, Lean Management means focusing on added value for the customer”

“Seven years ago, we turned to the company FBE, which is dedicated to strategy, people development and process improvement. The cooperation started with a strategic workshop with the managers of the Slovak and Czech plants. In its second part, the Balanced Scorecard method helped us connect the company’s strategy, process improvement plans and measuring improvements .”

“Later, we continued with employee training and Lean Management initiatives. The 5S method helped us improve the working environment and make work more efficient. To make sure we are moving forward, we have introduced regular audits. We realized that Lean Management is not only about tools, but especially about the culture of the organization. That is, both “hard” and “soft” tools . It takes a lot of energy to convince people who have been doing their job for many years that we have a lot of room for improvement”.

After experience in a sugar factory in Slovakia in Seredi and Czech factories in Hrušovany and Opava,  FBE consultants   continued with training and workshops with colleagues in Hungary and Romania. “This year, together with the group’s Lean team, we developed a model of sustainable Lean implementation for the entire Agrana group “.

Sugar cubes made in Cukrovary and supported with lean methodology by FBE

Lean Management implementation of FBE in Cukrovary

FBE consultant: “When my colleague from FBE and I did an assessment last month – how far they are in Lean in the Austrian plants Leopolsdorf and Tuln , we assessed it from the point of view of common goals for the whole group – to maximize efficiency, minimize waste and ensure long-term sustainability. In some colleagues exceeded our expectations because they went even further than in some companies from the automotive sector”

Production manager: “Process streamlining makes it possible to invest wisely so that the capacity of the equipment is used to the maximum. An example is sugar packaging processes. We will only buy new equipment if the analysis shows that it is necessary to supply the products that the customer needs.

 At Agrana, we care about sustainability. That is why we reduce energy consumption . Our goal is to get below 1000 kWh per ton of sugar produced .

The secret of success is the  involvement of all employees . Managers need to believe that it pays to be Lean, to understand the tools. They need to know how to support and motivate others to Lean.

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