Introduction: Walkers Processing Plant Case Study

A processing plant may not have to meet the company’s end consumer directly. They typically report to the management team which serve as the brain of the company. Solid coordination is strongly required for the company to succeed, not only in selling the output of the processing plant but also to establish a sustainable competitive advantage. This issue can be studied from the largest snack processing plant on earth, the Walkers processing plant in Leicester, England.

This article will examine the Walkers processing plant case study, analyzing four key areas of safety, quality, customer service, and cost from the perspective of the processing plant. It will discuss the measure and key goal of each element, then analyze the findings to create a rank of priority of the goals. The article will conclude with a recommendation to Walkers in optimizing the processing plant.

The Measure for Each Element: Quality, Safety, Customer Service, and Cost

Nieto-Rodriguez (2021) argued that too much focus on project input as a performance indicator, instead of project output, will hinder the greater performance of the project. He emphasized that project performance indicators should not be based on inputs, such as material, time, costs, and scope. Instead, it should give more attention to outcomes, such as benefits, value creation, impact, opportunities, and risks. Walkers measure its processing plant’s quality, safety, customer service, and costs using both, its input and output. The analysis will be provided as follows.

1. Safety

Various indicators can be used to measure how safe the workplace is. For instance, the number of workplace accidents can be a good measure. The processing plant can be given a target to keep this indicator a zero or close to zero, without any fatalities or severe injuries. The company has a high commitment to safety and considers it its number one priority.

Another indicator of safety can also be utilized. Kimanzi et al. (2021) listed 21 key performance indicators (KPIs) as a measure of safety risk in paint manufacturing, ranging from fire safety to the sufficiency of water supply. It also includes accident and incident rates which were mentioned above. Walkers can adopt some of the 21 KPIs to measure safety in the processing plant. Typically, the safety issue is so vital that it is regulated by the authority. Walkers should not only adhere to safety based on the regulation but also take it to the next level. The company has a high dedication to workplace safety so its safety standard should be well above the regulation. Fortunately, the company has a good safety record, and it should maintain the record.

2. Quality

The measure of quality can be applied to the product as well as to the process. The crisp will undergo several processing stages from the raw material to becoming packaged finished goods ready to be shipped. The company has quality assurance measures for raw materials and quality control for each processing stage. In this case, the company will have so many variables to measure, but it can be summarized as a bigger measure, which is the defect rate.

In fact, a project’s quality planning focuses on preventing defects (Watt, 2014). Walkers already used statistical process control, which utilized statistical techniques to evaluate product samples and make a conclusion about the quality of the process. The company can measure its processing plant quality by evaluating the defect rates from each processing stage using these statistical techniques. The case study mentioned a trained team of technicians who take samples and measure them against a predetermined Gold standard to ensure standards are rigorously maintained. This is exactly how statistical quality control is performed.

3. Customer Service

While the processing plant is the facility that creates the product to be sold to the retailers and the end consumers, it also has the responsibility to report and coordinate with the head office. The case study mentioned this issue as having an internal customer as well as the external customer. Since the processing plant has two kinds of customers, the measure should also be created for both. However, in this case study, the main focus will be directed at external customers.

For external customers, which mainly are retailers, the company should use customer satisfaction from their perspective. Their main interest is to get the product they demanded in the right quantity and in time. To ensure satisfaction, the company should use measurements such as fulfillment rate and average time to fulfill the demand. The company’s objective is to successfully provide 98.5% of the retailers’ order within 24 hours, which is quite extraordinary.

4. Cost

In every manufacturing plant, there are so many elements of costs. Each cost is a measure of its own. To get a solid measurement that is based on progress, Walkers can use efficiency measures, such as the average amount of waste, average inventory level, and labor cost efficiency. The company can also use the most general measure, which is the total cost. Using these measurements, the company can set a target for a cost-efficiency program.

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The Key Goals and the Direct or Indirect Measure of Each Element

The main objective of determining measures for each element of safety, quality, customer satisfaction, and cost, is to enable the company to measure progress and evaluate the business unit. Pinto (2019) proposed a general model of organizational control that operates in a continuous cycle, beginning with setting the key goals, measuring progress, comparing actual with planned measurements, and taking action based on the evaluation. For this case study, the key goals and the measure of each element can be shown in the table below.

 Key GoalsDirect/Indirect MeasureTarget
SafetyTo ensure the safety of all people that interacted with the companyAccident rate Incident rate FatalityKeep it 0
QualityTo ensure the process can produce a quality product with no significant defectDefect rate in each processing stageLess than 0.05
Customer SatisfactionFulfilling all customers’ orders in time to ensure customer satisfactionFulfillment rate Average fulfillment time100% 98.5% under 24 hrs
CostTo push employees in cost efficiency without compromising safety, quality, and customer satisfaction.Total cost efficiency Waste efficiency Inventory costs efficiency Labor costs efficiency5% annual increase in efficiency

The Rank of Priority for the Walkers Processing Plant

The company’s value can be determined by how it ranks the priority for the goals described above. The first priority should be safety, which usually is stipulated as non-negotiable (Pinto, 2019). There is no point in maintaining other goals when the workplace is full of hazards for the employees.

The second priority should be quality since customer fulfillment and cost efficiency can be achieved by the assumption that quality is maintained. There is no point in fulfilling the order in time and cutting inventory or labor costs if the products are full of defects. The company should ensure that quality is achieved as the higher priority that can establish its sustainable competitive advantage.

Then, the priority should be customer satisfaction, as measured by the fulfillment rate and average fulfillment time. Customer satisfaction should be put higher than costs since the opportunity cost of a disappointed churning customer can be unimaginably high. Cost efficiency as the fourth priority can be pursued after the previous three.

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Conclusion: Walkers Processing Plant

The article identifies the measure four elements from the Walkers processing plant. For the safety element, the measure is the accident or incident rate and the target is to keep it zero so that the safety of all people in the workplace can be guaranteed. It is also the first priority that is non-negotiable. For the quality element, the measure is defect rate as it is analyzed with statistical process control. It has the second priority, which means that the company’s focus should be emphasizing maintaining quality to establish a sustainable competitive advantage. For customer service, the measure is fulfillment rate and the average fulfillment time since the external customers are mainly retailers which demand an order to be delivered in the right quantity and in time. For the cost element, the measure is the efficiency made while maintaining the first three priorities. Using this framework, Walkers processing plant can strengthen its position in the industry,  having solid quality and productivity in the processing plant, while also having a good, healthy, and safe workplace.

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Kimanzi, E., Ikua, B., & Mbuya, T. (2018). Key Performance Indicators for Manufacturing Safety in Paint Manufacturing: A Case of the Kenyan Industry. International Journal of Engineering Research and Technology. 7(03).

Nieto-Rodriguez, A. (2021). Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook: How to Launch, Lead, and Sponsor Successful Projects (HBR Handbooks). Harvard Business Review Press.

Pinto, J. K. (2019). Project Management: Achieving Competitive Advantage, Global Edition. Pearson.

Watt, A. (2014). Project Management. BCcampus Open Textbook project. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

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